Ebola may not cause vision loss, but survivors of the deadly disease could be left with a unique retinal scar, new research has found.
"The distribution of these retinal scars or lesions provides the first observational evidence that the virus enters the eye via the optic nerve to reach the retina in a similar way to West Nile Virus," said one of the study authors Paul Steptoe from Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, Britain.
Researchers from University of Liverpool determined if the virus can have any specific effects on the eye using an ultra widefield retinal camera.
The researchers assessed survivors discharged from the Ebola Treatment Unit at the 34th Regiment Military Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The team compared eye examinations of PES sufferers in Sierra Leone and the control population.
A total of 82 Ebola survivors who had previously reported ocular symptoms and 105 unaffected controls from civilian and military personnel underwent ophthalmic examination, including widefield retinal imaging.
The results of the research, published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, showed that around 15 per cent of Ebola survivors examined have a retinal scar that appears specific to the disease.
"Luckily, they appear to spare the central part of the eye so vision is preserved.
Follow up studies are ongoing to assess for any potential recurrence of Ebola eye disease," Steptoe said.
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