Severe COVID-19 Linked With Changes in Eyes

By Ernie Mundell and Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporters

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Serious eye abnormalities have been found in the eyes of some patients with COVID-19, according to a new study from France.

The results show the need for eye screening, as well as appropriate treatment and management of potentially serious eye problems in these patients, experts say.

“We have shown that a few patients with severe COVID-19 from the French COVID-19 cohort had one or more nodules of the posterior pole of the [eye’s] globe ”, explains the lead author of the study, Dr Augustin Lecler, neuroradiologist at the Adolphe de Rothschild Foundation hospital in Paris.

An American ophthalmologist unrelated to the study explained that these nodules appeared in a part of the eyeball called the macula.

“The macula is the area of ​​the retina responsible for central vision,” said Dr. Mark Fromer, who practices at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “The retina is easily assessed by a retinal specialist using magnifying lenses in bed.”

At this point, he said it was not yet clear whether the eye changes were directly related to COVID-19 or its treatment, such as intubating critically ill patients and putting them on ventilators.

As the Paris team explained, while the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 primarily affects the lungs, it has been linked to an increased risk of eye conditions such as conjunctivitis (pink eye) and retinopathy, a disease of the retina which can cause vision loss. .

There have been reports of eye abnormalities detected during MRI scans of COVID-19 patients, but investigations into the types and rates of these eye problems are limited.

To find out more, the French Society of Neuroradiology conducted a study with 129 patients with severe COVID-19 who underwent brain MRI.

Nine (7%) of the patients had one or more nodules in the back part of the eyeball. All had nodules in the macular area and eight had nodules in both eyes. Eight of the nine patients had COVID-19 so severe that they had to spend time in intensive care units.

Continued

The new results were published on February 16 in the journal Radiology.

“This is the first time that these results have been described using MRI,” Lecler noted in a press release.

The researcher said serious eye problems could be missed in patients with COVID-19 in hospital intensive care units, as they are often treated for much more serious life-threatening conditions.

“Our study calls for the screening of all ICU hospital patients for severe COVID-19,” Lecler said. “We believe that these patients should receive specific eye protection treatments.”

Dr. Claudia Kirsch is chief of neuroradiology at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, NY Reading the new findings, she agreed that “clinicians treating COVID patients must ensure eye sockets [eyes] are protected. As we begin to recognize how the virus affects different organs in patients with COVID-19, including the eyes, we can hopefully better understand the mechanisms of the disease and work to improve outcomes for all patients. reached during the current pandemic. “

More information

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.

SOURCES: Mark Fromer, MD, ophthalmologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Claudia Kirsch, MD, division chief, neuroradiology, Department of Radiology, Northwell Health, New Hyde Park, NY; Radiology, press release, February 16, 2021

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