Watch out for eye-related complications post COVID recovery

COVID patients are increasingly being detected with retinal complications leading to a blurring of vision. COVID may cause obstruction of blood supply to the retina. One of these is an eye complication called ‘Retinopathy’. Retinopathy is a kind of a retinal vascular disease where the retina of the eye gets damaged because of abnormal blood flow, resulting in vision impairment. Also, critically ill COVID-19 patients who are being given steroids to mitigate lung and other complications can be at the risk of developing steroid-related ocular complications.

“Retinopathy due to COVID or steroids treatment usually occurs within 2-4 weeks after the COVID has resolved. So patients who have recovered from COVID and had been treated with steroids should watch out for such symptoms for the initial weeks or till the time they are on steroids for lung complications. The most common symptom is blurring of vision (not necessarily accompanied by redness or pain). We are seeing patients with retinopathy, either due to block of the retinal blood vessel or swelling of the retina. But the good news is that, so far based on the cases reported to us, the risk to develop this condition is less than 0.1%,” says Dr Raja Narayanan, Senior Retina Consultant – L V Prasad Eye Institute.

“It is not mandatory for all COVID recovered patients to undergo a detailed eye examination, but those who experience blurring of eyesight or any other similar symptoms even after COVID has resolved should get their eyes examined without delay. If in case they are not able to physically visit an eye hospital, they can even get a teleconsultation done,” continues Dr Narayanan.

“The steroids that are administered to treat elderly COVID patients can lead to a relative immune-deficient stage and hence there is also a risk of developing certain viral conditions such as herpes zoster ophthalmicus. This is a condition that presents with skin eruptions and excoriations involving the eyelid and the surrounding area, along with secondary conjunctivitis-like symptoms such as redness and discharge. The condition can be associated with pain/ tingling sensation in and around the eyes,” adds Dr Sunita Chaurasia, Senior Cornea Consultant – L V Prasad Eye Institute.

“Maintaining good eye health practices, being vigilant, and consulting the doctors immediately if you experience any complications with your vision, is very important. Early diagnosis and treatment can help safeguard the vision of the patient,” advises Dr Chaurasia.