Compared to other diseases, COVID-19 is known for causing a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. Headaches, fever, brain fog, and many more are just some examples of what the medical community knows so far. With each passing day, researchers learn more about the disease and often discover news manifestations of the virus. This week, a team of French researchers published a study documenting so-called nodules in the eyes of patients battling severe COVID-19.
COVID Can Cause “Significant Abnormalities” in the Eyes
The findings were published in the Radiology journal. Data from 129 patients with severe COVID-19 who had brain MRIs across 16 hospitals from March 4 to May 1 were analyzed. Researchers from the French Society of Neuroradiology (SFNR) identified “significant abnormalities” in the eyes. Nine patients had nodules in the macular region (the area in the back of the eye responsible for our central vision) while eight had nodules in both eyes.
Though it is still unclear what causes the nodules, the researchers suggest that it could be due to virus-related inflammation or the prone position (when patients are placed face down for better oxygenation as a treatment). Seven of the nine patients were in the prone position, and researchers therefore hypothesized issues related to “inadequate drainage of the veins of the eyes.”
Many of the patients in the study had pre-existing conditions. Six were obese, two had diabetes and two had hypertension. Eight out of nine patients underwent intensive care due to their severe bout of COVID-19.
“We showed that a few patients with severe COVID-19 from the French COVID-19 cohort had one or several nodules of the posterior pole of the globe,” Dr. Augustin Lecler, said in a related press release. “This is the first time these findings have been described using MRI.”
Since this sort of eye damage can easily go unnoticed, researchers urge the importance of ocular screening in the form of high resolution MRI exams. “Our study advocates for screening of all patients hospitalized in the ICU for severe COVID-19,” Dr. Lecler said. “We believe those patients should receive specific eye-protective treatments.”