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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Nov 26, 2023  2 months, 4 weeks, 1 day, 4 hours, 34 minutes ago

COVID-19 News: Indian Medical Researchers Warn That Many Post-COVID Individuals Can Develop Fungal Endogenous Endophthalmitis!

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COVID-19 News: Indian Medical Researchers Warn That Many Post-COVID Individuals Can Develop Fungal Endogenous Endophthalmitis!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Nov 26, 2023  2 months, 4 weeks, 1 day, 4 hours, 34 minutes ago
COVID-19 News: As the world grapples with the persistent challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, an alarming revelation emerges from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)-Uttarakhand. Indian medical researchers issue a stark warning about a rare but potentially severe complication - Fungal Endogenous Endophthalmitis (EE) - in individuals recovering from COVID-19. This condition, characterized by ocular inflammation resulting from fungal infections originating within the body, presents a unique diagnostic puzzle due to its varied clinical symptoms, often overlapping with other ocular pathologies.

Fundus photograph (FP) of RE (a) and LE (b) at presentation showing dense vitreous exudates in case 2. Inflammation resolved in both eyes following PPV (c and d); LE also underwent SOT (d). Intraoperative FP of RE of case 3 showing fluff ball-like vitreous deposits and membranes (e); FP after core vitrectomy shows a subfoveal abscess (f). Post-operatively, a subretinal bleed was noted at the area of the abscess (g), which led to a subretinal hyperreflective material on OCT (h)
Exploring the Study
This groundbreaking research covered in this COVID-19 News report, conducted at a multispecialty tertiary hospital in North India, undertook a meticulous retrospective chart review spanning the period from July 2020 to June 2021. The primary objective was to illuminate the landscape of post-COVID-19 EE cases, providing a comprehensive examination of the demographic profile, ocular presenting features, management strategies, and outcomes of affected individuals.
The Intricacies of COVID-19 and Ocular Manifestations
COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, primarily targets respiratory cells. However, its presence has been identified in ocular tissues such as the cornea, retina, and conjunctival epithelium. Ocular manifestations in COVID-19 patients can be attributed to various factors, including direct viral invasion, alterations in the host immune system, adverse effects of pharmacotherapy, and complications arising from prolonged hospitalization.
The Findings Unveiled
The study's findings uncovered a total of seven eyes belonging to four patients with post-COVID-19 EE, revealing a spectrum of cases exhibiting varying degrees of severity. Among these cases, two patients presented with confirmed bilateral fungal (Aspergillus sp.) EE, while the remaining two had presumed fungal EE (one bilateral and one unilateral). Notably, three out of the four patients had received systemic steroids as part of their COVID-19 treatment.
Diverse Treatment Approaches
The management of these cases showcased diversity, with five eyes undergoing initial intravitreal injection (IVI) followed by pars plana vitrectomy (PPV), and two eyes managed with only IVI. Each patient received systemic antifungal agents, ultimately leading to the resolution of intraocular inflammation. A noteworthy observation was the occurrence of voriconazole-induced transient visual hallucination in one patient, a rare s ide effect that ceased upon discontinuation of the medication.
In-Depth Exploration of Individual Cases
To comprehend the complexities involved, let's delve into the intricate details of the individual cases presented in the study.
-Case-1: A 55-year-old man, having experienced severe COVID pneumonia and steroid-induced diabetes, presented with bilateral Aspergillus EE. Notably, the patient had a history of pulmonary tuberculosis, adding an additional layer of complexity to the case.
-Case-2: A 63-year-old female, having undergone moderate COVID-19 and developing steroid-induced diabetes, showcased bilateral Aspergillus EE. This patient also experienced voriconazole-induced transient visual hallucination, highlighting the need for awareness regarding medication side effects.
-Case-3: A 48-year-old non-diabetic woman presented with unilateral presumed fungal EE, presenting a diagnostic and management challenge due to the absence of a recent history of systemic corticosteroid use.
-Case-4: A 45-year-old female, admitted to the ICU for severe COVID pneumonia, developed bilateral presumed fungal EE. This case underscored the vulnerability of patients with prolonged hospital stays, leading to challenges in diagnosis and management.
Discussion and Insights
The study's discussion segment delves into the diverse presentations of confirmed or presumed fungal EE in the aftermath of COVID-19. Emphasis is placed on risk factors, with systemic corticosteroid use being a common thread among these cases. Comparisons with similar cases reported in other studies further enrich the discourse, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the intricacies involved.
Insights into the Complexity
One of the critical insights drawn from the study is the association between systemic corticosteroid use and the development of EE. While three out of the four patients in this series had received systemic steroids during COVID-19 treatment, rendering them susceptible to opportunistic fungal infections, similar occurrences have been reported in other studies.
Unique Challenges and Multifactorial Causation
The discussion also sheds light on the multifactorial causation of EE in post-COVID-19 patients. Factors such as the compromised immune system in COVID-19 patients, as evidenced by decreased lymphocyte count, coupled with the addition of high-dose steroids, predispose individuals to opportunistic fungal infections.
Similar trends were observed in past studies and case reports, where systemic corticosteroid use was a common denominator.
Case-Specific Considerations
The fourth case in the series presented a unique challenge, as the patient had received high-dose systemic steroids, leading to invasive fungal disease in the form of secondary fungal pneumonia (likely Aspergillus sp.). The study considers differential diagnoses such as toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis, and cytomegalovirus retinitis, highlighting the importance of a thorough evaluation in complex cases.
Conclusion and Future Implications
In conclusion, this comprehensive study serves as a vital alert to ophthalmologists and physicians regarding the potential emergence of fungal endophthalmitis in the aftermath of COVID-19. Despite the inherent limitations of a small retrospective case series, the findings underscore the necessity for a high index of suspicion, particularly in patients receiving prolonged systemic corticosteroids.
The study advocates for timely and vigilant management, with an emphasis on bedside fundus evaluation for high-risk patients. The intricate details of each case contribute to the evolving understanding of the wide-ranging complications associated with COVID-19. This research not only highlights the need for ongoing awareness but also emphasizes the importance of continued research to unravel the complexities of post-COVID-19 manifestations. As the medical community grapples with these challenges, this study provides valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of fungal endogenous endophthalmitis in the wake of the global pandemic.
The case series and study findings were published in the peer reviewed Indian Journal of Ophthalmology.
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