COVID-19 Affects the Retina

A cross-sectional and monocentric study performed in Italy revealed that COVID-19 affects the retina. The study aimed to reveal the effects of SARS-CoV-2 since it has been known to cause microvascular alterations. Previous studies have revealed that SARS-CoV-2 targets various other body parts aside from the lungs. The study included 54 participants who had developed COVID-19 and 133 unexposed patients.

The participants completed questionnaires that described the ocular symptoms and they underwent pupil dilation with mydriatic drops about 15 minutes before the retinal images were captured. The researchers measured the retinal arteries and veins. Both the veins and arteries were larger as compared to the unexposed subjects. In severe cases, the veins’ diameter was larger and had an inverse correlation with time to symptoms onset. The mean arteries’ diameter and mean vein diameter among the participants with COVID-19 were higher as compared to the unexposed participants.

This concludes that COVID-19 affects the retina and the retinal veins diameter appear to be directly correlated with the disease severity. Assessment of the retinal damage in COVID-19 patients could have applications in the management of COVID-19.

The participants with COVID-19 had higher mean arteries diameter and mean veins diameter. The findings also revealed cotton wool spots, dilated veins, and tortuous vessels.

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