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Decoding Long Covid: Can Covid Patients Have Vision Loss After Recovery? An Expert Explains

Representative image. (Reuters)

Representative image. (Reuters)

While the eyes are not often affected during or after a Covid-19 infection, there are symptoms like conjunctivitis that are seen among Covid-19 patients. Very few patients may have long-term eye damage.

Decoding Long COVID
As we reach what seems to be the end of the deadly second wave of Covid-19 in India, several recovering patients stare at a long haul of dealing with persisting symptoms — now being defined as ‘long Covid’ by doctors. In light of the situation, News18 will run a 15-day series ‘Decoding Long Covid‘ where doctors with different specialisations will address concerns, recommend ways to deal with them and suggest when to seek help.

In today’s column, Dr Vanuli Bajpai, consultant - ophthalmology, HCMCT at\ Manipal Hospitals Delhi talks about long-term visual recovery and explains why some patients can also have vision loss because of Covid-19.

While the eyes are not often affected during or after a Covid-19 infection, there are symptoms like conjunctivitis that are seen among Covid-19 patients. Very few patients may have long-term eye damage. Dr Bajpai told News18 during an interview, “The most common symptoms during Covid are conjunctivitis, which is quickly resolved by medication. However, in few cases, the retina and retina vessels have been impacted, leading to long-term diminution of vision.”

“Blockage of the retinal veins or arteries supplying the retina can lead to visual loss and needs treatment. The long-term visual recovery in these cases is variable, ranging from complete recovery to significant visual loss," said the doctor.

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Another danger to the eyes is mucormycosis, or black fungus, that has been seen among several Covid patients. Bajpai pointed out that Rhino-Orbital-Cerebral Mucormycosis (ROCM) is a devastating complication emerging in Covid patients, especially those with diabetes mellitus, who were on treatment with corticosteroid therapy. ROCM is a severe and fatal fungal infection. This is an infection of the nose and sinuses with fungus, which can spread to the orbit (bony cage in which the eye is housed) and its structures.

“Mucormycosis is a life-threatening disease if it spreads to the brain. It is also a sight-threatening disease that needs long term anti-fungal therapy lasting for months and may require radical surgery in few cases. The eye surgery, if required, can be quite disfiguring and necessitates complete removal of the involved eye along with its surrounding structures," said Bajpai.

Therefore, the doctor said, treatment can have a long-lasting impact on the physical as well as mental well-being of the patient and needs prosthetic rehabilitation after the disease has been entirely eradicated from the body, which can take many months.

“The patients recovering from Covid, especially if they have diabetes, need to be made aware of the common symptoms of mucormycosis, namely, stuffiness in the nose, discharge from the nose, foul smell, bleeding from the nose, swelling around eyes or on the face, blurry vision, double vision, change in colour of skin around eyes/ nose/ face, pain around nose/eyes/face. If these patients experience any of the above symptoms, they should immediately contact their Physician, who can advise referral to an ENT specialist or Ophthalmologist as needed for further treatment," added Bajpai.

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first published:June 13, 2021, 10:00 IST