Infectious Diseases

Study highlights ocular manifestations in COVID-19 patients

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A recent systematic review of global observations of ocular manifestations in COVID-19 patients highlights the importance of recognizing eye-related symptoms in the context of the pandemic. The “red” eye, temporary vision loss, conjunctivitis, and cotton wool spots were the most commonly observed ocular symptoms. Early detection and diagnosis of these ocular manifestations can lead to timely intervention and treatment, potentially preventing severe complications. Healthcare providers, including primary care physicians, should be aware of these findings to better understand the diverse clinical presentations of COVID-19 and provide comprehensive care to patients affected by the virus.

Below are the study highlights:

  1. Common Ocular Symptoms in COVID-19 Patients:

The study identified several ocular symptoms commonly observed in COVID-19 patients. The most prevalent presenting ophthalmologic symptom was the “red” eye, indicating conjunctivitis. Temporary vision loss was another frequently reported symptom. These eye-related symptoms were often observed 1 to 2 weeks following the initial diagnosis of COVID-19.

  1. Conjunctivitis as a Clinical Diagnosis:

Conjunctivitis was the most common clinical diagnosis reported in COVID-19 patients with ocular symptoms. Conjunctivitis can occur in isolation or alongside other respiratory symptoms and may be an important clue in diagnosing COVID-19, especially in cases where other symptoms are not immediately apparent.

  1. Neuro-Retinal Affections – Cotton Wool Spots:

The study also identified neuro-retinal affections in the form of cotton wool spots among COVID-19 patients with ocular symptoms. Cotton wool spots are caused by small areas of nerve fiber layer infarction in the retina. These spots can be an indicator of underlying systemic diseases, including COVID-19.

  1. Duration of Ophthalmic Complications:

Ocular complications in COVID-19 patients were most reported 1 to 2 weeks after the initial diagnosis of the virus. This suggests that eye-related symptoms may not always manifest simultaneously with other respiratory symptoms and may appear later in the course of the disease.

Pace JL, Richard D, Khachik A, et al. Ophthalmic Presentations and Manifestations of COVID-19: A Systematic Review of Global Observations. Cureus. 2023;15(6):e40695. doi: 10.7759/cureus.40695. PMID: 37485114; PMCID: PMC10359021.