Can it cause a “hit in the eye”?

Months go by and studies on Covid-19 allow us to know a little more every day about the impact of the virus on our general state of health.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have investigated collateral damage that is not well documented : retinal vascular occlusions. As proof, today they are the first to establish a link between Covid-19 and this type of eye condition.

Therefore, they were able to observe an increase in both types of eye pathologies, potentially serious and irreversible, that occurred after contamination with Covid.

Increased retinal vascular occlusions

The first pathology seen is a central retinal artery occlusion (ROAC) which can cause sudden blurring or loss of vision in one eye. The study authors observed a 29.9% increase in this stroke in the period from two to 26 weeks after contamination with Covid-19 compared to this same period before diagnosis.

These figures are even more impressive for the second related pathology, retinal vein occlusion, which causes symptoms similar to CROA.

This time, the increase is 47% in that same period, varying between two and 26 weeks compared to the same duration without coronavirus contamination.

Potentially serious strokes

These retinal strokes are usually caused by blood clots or fatty deposits that block blood vessels in the retina, the part of the eye that receives light and transmits images to the brain. These occlusions can cause damage ranging from mild visual impairment to complete loss of vision in the eye.

Retinal vein occlusion, on the other hand, is associated with diabetes or high blood pressure. But it is also related to other eye disorders such as glaucoma (optic nerve damage).

While many patients with these “eye bumps” regain some level of vision, there is currently no treatment to regain full use of the affected eye (if completely blind).

According to the researchers, the very strong link between COVID-19 and retinal vein occlusions suggests that COVID-19 affects veins more than arteries. A conclusion that could improve the therapeutic management of this type of accident.

an unknown origin

However, the study has a limit: it does not address cases of retinal vascular occlusions in patients admitted to intensive care who, given their deteriorating health, could not manifest these sudden changes in vision.

Other study conducted by researchers at the Fondation Adolphe de Rothschild Hospital had previously noted the presence of nodules in the macula (area of ​​the retina at the back of the eye), which may be a sign of inflammation or direct eye damage. As for the pathologies mentioned above, the origin of these nodules has not yet been clarified.

But one of the hypotheses put forward is that the virus directly infects the eye by entering the cells through the ACE2 receptorprotein necessary for the virus to enter the body.

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