Coronavirus could cause potentially dangerous “nodules” to form on patients’ eyeballs, warns a new study.
Some people who have been severely affected by Covid-19 symptoms have been found to have unusual abnormalities in their eyes, but the effects of the nodules are not yet known, scientists say.
MRI scans of 129 patients with severe Covid symptoms found nine of them had one or more abnormalities on the back of their eyeballs.
Researchers at the University of Paris believe the nodules could be linked to inflammation caused by the virus.
But they also theorize that the problem could be caused by patients lying on their front in the hospital, which means that the veins in the eye are not draining properly.
All affected patients were in this position in the intensive care unit.
Of the nine patients with ocular nodules, two had diabetes, six were obese, and two had high blood pressure.
The team behind the finding also speculates that the nodules may be related to intubation.
The pandemic has affected more than 100 million people since it began in late 2019.
While the virus primarily attacks the lungs, it has been linked to conditions such as conjunctivitis and retinopathy, a disease of the retina that can lead to loss of vision.
Scientists worried that eye problems could be missed while doctors treat more severe symptoms are now calling on health bosses to conduct eye screening for all Covid patients admitted to the intensive care unit.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Augustin Lecler of the University of Paris said: “We have shown that some patients with severe Covid-19 from the French Covid-19 cohort had one or more nodes of the rear pole of the world.
“This is the first time that these results have been described using MRI.
“Our study advocates screening all patients hospitalized in the intensive care unit for severe Covid-19. We believe that these patients should receive specific eye protection treatments.”
The researchers conduct clinical follow-up exams and MRIs on the survivors to monitor the nodules and determine if they are having clinical consequences, such as loss of vision or impaired visual field.
They also perform MRI scans on new patients with severe Covid-19 from the second and third waves of the pandemic, with more stringent testing being done.
The effects on patients with moderate Covid are currently being investigated.
Dr. Lecler added, “We have started a prospective study of high-resolution images to examine the eye and orbit in patients with mild to moderate Covid.
“Therefore, we will be able to know whether our results were specific to severe Covid patients or not.”
The results were published in the journal Radiology.