A new study has revealed that people who have been down with severe COVID19 disease might be at a higher risk of serious eye issues. Experts have looked at the details of 129 patients in France who have been admitted to the hospitals with COVID19. These patients have undergone Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Nearly 7 percent of these patients have shown signs of eye abnormalities, said the experts. MRIs of these patients have revealed an eye defect called nodules at the backside of their eyes. The lead author of the study, Dr. Augustin Lecler has said that nodules can be considered a sign of inflammation or direct injury to the eye. As per the study, around nine patients have been found to have nodules in the macula, which is essential for central vision. Central vision means the ability to see clearly in front. Around eight of the patients have been identified with bilateral nodules, which means that the eye defect has been found in both eyes. Health experts have seen the eye issue, which has been found in these patients, can be very serious as it is located in the macula region. The macula region in the eyes helps people to have a clear vision and the ability to see fine details. If it continues for long, it can lead to severe vision loss or blindness.
The authors of the study have said that people who have been diagnosed with severe COVID19 infection need to go for an eye checkup for potential eye issues. The findings of the new study have been released in the journal Radiology. Experts have said that such serious eye issues might be overlooked in patients who are admitted to the intensive care units with severe COVID19 as doctors are more focused to treat life-threatening diseases. The authors of the study have said that people clinicians and doctors need to be careful in finding if there is an eye problem in patients with a severe viral infection to protect them from severe vision loss. Earlier, the COVID19 has been linked to eye issues such as conjunctivitis and retinopathy. Retinopathy means damage to the eye’s retina. However, this is the first study, which has found that eye defects in severe COVID19 patients using MRIs. Experts have not been able to find the actual cause of this eye defect but they believe that it might be due to blocked blood vessels or bleeding in the eye. The authors have said how the SARS-CoV-2 virus inflicts eye damage has not been found. However, it is possible that the virus is to infect the eye directly as cells in the retina are known to convey the ACE2 receptor, which acts as a gateway for the virus to infect the cells. It might be due to the body’s inflammatory retort to the disease.
Experts as well have said that the eye defect might be the result of severe illness. The study has noted that patients who are intubated with a breathing tube and spend their time lying down on their stomachs in the ICU are at a higher risk of eye defects due to high pressure in the eyes. The majority of patients who have been observed in the study have been lying down on their stomach also known as the prone position in the ICU for some time. Now, experts are following up with the patients to know whether their eye abnormalities have been temporary. They are looking at more patients with severe COVID19 disease with the help of MRI and other comprehensive eye tests. Similar studies are being done on patients who have been diagnosed with mild infection to find out if these eye problems occur particularly in patients with severe viral disease.