How does COVID-19 affect eye health?
COVID-19 is present in the eyes and also in tears, from where it can be transmitted, but very rarely. The sensation of a foreign body in the eyes, redness and watering are the sign of Conjunctivitis which could be the first signs of COVID-19 infection. Apart from this, COVID-19 also affects the retina of the eye. The retina is a part of the eye situated at the back of the eye and is responsible for our vision. There is a risk of Retinitis which is an infection of the Retina.
COVID-19 patients are prone to develop thrombosis in their blood vessels. Similarly, Thrombosis which is a Vascular Occlusion can occur in the eyes as well as it is one of the most common areas to get affected. Patients may have blurring of vision due that happens due to Haemorrhage and Edema of the retina. Hypertension and Diabetes can increase the chances by many folds. These patients need to be diagnosed as early as possible to have a good vision post their treatment.
Retinal conditions need early and prompt treatment. Delay in treatment may result in permanent loss of sight.
COVID-19 can also affect the optic nerve of the eye. The optic nerve is a connecting stalk that connects the eye to the brain and conveys vision signals to the brain. These patients have a diminution of vision as well as their colour saturation also gets off. For these patients, the colours may look washed off.
Sometimes the eye moments can cause pain in the eyes. This condition is essential to treat early as this may cause permanent vision loss.
Another condition that is reported in post-COVID cases is Uveitis. It is inflammation of the vascular coat of the eye where the brown part of the eye gets affected. Here, patients may experience redness, watering, intolerance to the light and pain in the eyes.
COVID 19 itself is a hyperglycemic state. Many patients are either developing diabetes post-COVID or their controlled diabetic conditions are getting precipitated. Diabetes itself can affect the retina and can damage the blood, cause edema, loss of small capillaries of the retina, lipid deposition in the retina, formation of new blood vessels and frank bleeding inside the eye.
A diabetic should get the retina check without fail. Diabetes may not cause vision loss till the very later stage and the disease can only be picked up by retina examination. Till the time patients develop symptoms, the disease may already get in advanced stage and either retinal Laser or Retinal Injections may be needed.
COVID 19, a viral infection is known to decrease mucosal immunity of respiratory and eye mucosa. Mucosal immunity is first to go and last to recover and hence COVID patients even after recovering from the disease are at risk of developing infections as late as 6 to 9 months after recovery.
We are suddenly seeing a lot of Mucormycosis cases. It is a fungus infection involving the paranasal sinuses, bone of the face and the eye. This infection has the potential to cause permanent blindness and death. The earliest symptoms are headache and toothache which should be not be underestimated. In the eye, this can cause, puffiness of the lid, double vision, diminution of vision, drooping of the upper eyelid or loss of sensation around the eye, forehead and cheeks.
Irrespective of whether you are symptomatic or not, eyes should be checked in all post-COVID patients there have been cases where patients permanently have a loss of sight. The patients who are immunocompromised, post kidney transplant, having chronic diseases and especially with diabetes are at a very higher risk to develop these complications. Kingsway Hospitals is a one stop destination for every healthcare facility. Talk to our medical experts to catch the health issue, if any, to get the best possible treatment in time.