COVID-19 Latest: Warnings Of More Cases Of COVID-19 Related Eye Infections Emerging
China researchers from the Department of Ophthalmology, General Hospital of the Central Theater Command-Wuhan present yet another case report involving a patient in China who developed an acute glaucoma attack soon after recovering from COVID-19.
In this case study, nucleocapsid protein antigens were detected on the cells of the conjunctiva, iris, and trabecular meshwork of a patient with a COVID-19 infection, and these antigens were absent on the specimens from the control patient. In addition, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor proteins were detected in the conjunctiva cells of this patient and a control participant.
Her doctors had to perform surgery to treat the condition, and detailed tests of her eye tissue showed evidence of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The study findings are published in the journal: JAMA Ophthalmology https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/2771320?resultClick=1
As more clinical evidence emerge that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is able to attack various parts of the eye and cause a multitude of conditions, more doctors including those from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are issuing warnings to physicians to be on the lookout for such ocular infections and for common citizens to take more precautions including the wearing of protective goggles.
It is not known if the new emergence of ocular infections could be due to mutation occurrences or just due to the fact that no one was paying much attention to ocular infections by the novel coronavirus in the beginning of the pandemic.
Thailand Medical News had reported on a few COVID-19 case reports involving COVID-19 ocular issues: https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/covid-19-and-eyes-doctors-report-case-of-retinal-vein-occlusion-due-to-covid-19-in-patient-more-cases-of-eyes-being-attacked-by-sars-cov-2-emerging
The latest findings offer further proof that SARS-CoV-2 can also infect ocular tissues in addition to the respiratory system.
Dr Aaron Glatt, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America told Thailand Medical News, ”It's been suspected that the eyes can be a source of both ‘in and out’ for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.”
He added, “That's why health care workers protect their eyes with goggles or face shields.”
Experts also say that it will be better if common people also start taking protective measures for their eyes as well besides just wearing a facemask
According to Dr Glatt, It is not possible to say whether the patient in this case contracted SARS-CoV-2 via her eyes, but that is a possibility-whether through viral particles in the air or by touching her eyes with a virus-contaminated hand.
Importantly another big unknown is whether any lingering virus in patients' eye tissue will cause problems.
Dr Grace Richter, an ophthalmologist at the University of Southern California's Roski Eye Institute in Los Angeles says, "It's too early to know what having this virus floating around in the eye means for ocular health but precautions should be taken as early as possible"
Dr Richter said that here has been growing eye problems with COVID-19 ie a number of patients develop conjunctivitis or ‘pink eye’, where the white part of the eye and inside of the eyelid become swollen, red and itchy.
The Chinese patient in this case suffered acute angle-closure glaucoma ie a serious condition in which pressure in the eyes suddenly rises due to fluid buildup. It requires prompt treatment to relieve the pressure, sometimes with surgery to restore the eye's normal fluid movement.
Dr Richter was doubtful if the SARS-CoV-2coronavirus directly caused the eye complication. In general, certain anatomical features of the eye make some people vulnerable to acute angle-closure glaucoma, and it can be triggered by medications, she explained.
Dr Richter speculated that since the patient was hospitalized and likely received various drugs, that might have been the cause but still direct infection should not be ruled out.
Dr Sonal Tuli, a clinical spokeswoman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and chairwoman of ophthalmology at the University of Florida College of Medicine, in Gainesville added, “The patient's case is ‘interesting,’ but leaves open a number of questions. One is whether the virus present in the eye tissue is actually infectious. But again nevertheless eye protection is also important in this COVID-19 era.”
The case patient was a 64-year-old woman who was hospitalized for COVID-19. Eighteen days later, her symptoms had fully resolved, and throat swabs turned up negative for SARS-CoV-2.
However about a week later, though, she developed pain and vision loss in one eye, and then in her other eye a few days afterward, according to the report by Dr Ying Yan and colleagues from the General Hospital of the Central Theater Command in Wuhan.
The female patient landed in the hospital again, where she was diagnosed with acute angle-closure glaucoma and cataract. Medication failed to bring down her eye pressure, so her doctors performed surgery and taking tissue samples in the process.
Detailed tests of those samples turned up evidence that SARS-CoV-2 had invaded the eye tissues, Dr Yan's team reported.
Though it is not clear how the virus got into the patient's eyes, the experts agreed the case underscores the importance of eye protection
For professionals in the healthcare industry health that means goggles and face shields; for the average person, it's regular hand-washing and keeping the hands away from the eyes.
Dr Tuli added. "I think people don't realize how often they touch their eyes,"
This healthcare advice will reduce the chance of any virus, including cold and flu bugs, from coming into contact with the eyes.
Dr Tuli suggested although that may be enough in most cases, individuals caring for someone with COVID-19 at home may want to be extra cautious, wearing eye protection in addition to a mask is a "good idea.”
Though it may be overwhelming for some already having issues with wearing face mask, considering that the SARS-CoV-2 is a relatively new virus that we do not know much about and while many emerging studies are showing its potential to damage the human host body in a variety of ways, it is safer and better for individuals to disregard these issues of inconvenience and instead focus on their health safety for both short-term and long –term and adopt using protective eye goggles.
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