Visual symptoms after COVID-19 suggest retinal involvement

Investigators advised that clinicians should be aware of this spectrum of retinal involvement after COVID-19 infections and emphasized the importance of a fundus evaluation.

Retinal involvement following a COVID-19 infection is rare but can happen after severe infections in immunocompetent individuals, according to Dr Yusar Asad and colleagues from the Vitreoretinal Services, Centre for Sight, Delhi, India.

The research team conducted a retrospective review of consecutive patients presenting with retinal manifestations attributable to COVID-19 between May 2020 and June 2021.

The study included 20 eyes of 17 patients. All COVID-19 infections were confirmed by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. All other causes of retinal involvement were eliminated by systemic work-ups.

Dr Asad reported that the patients presented with vascular involvement such as venous stasis retinopathy, central retinal vein occlusion (unilateral/bilateral), branch retinal artery occlusion, and anterior ischemic optic neuropathy as well as opportunistic infections like endogenous endophthalmitis, candidemia retinitis, and subretinal abscess in orbital mucormycosis.

“A whole spectrum of manifestations following COVID-19 infections in an otherwise immunocompetent patient presenting at a tertiary care centre have been documented,” the investigators reported.

They advised that clinicians should be aware of this spectrum of retinal involvement after COVID-19 infections and emphasized the importance of a fundus evaluation. “While it is rare, it is important that these diseases can develop in a patient with visual symptoms,” Dr Asad commented.