Damage to the cornea could be a sign of long-term COVID, according to a new study.
Researchers believe they’ve discovered yet another indication of “long COVID,” though it’s not as obvious as the others. They discovered it in the eyes of the patients this time.
Many people recover from a COVID-19 infection in a matter of weeks, while other people endure “returning or ongoing” post-COVID symptoms four weeks or longer after infection. People who contract extended COVID may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, exhaustion, heart palpitations, mental fog, and sleeping issues months after contracting the virus.
According to a new study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, about 10% of patients who recover from acute COVID-19 develop protracted COVID.
The researchers looked at 40 patients who had been exposed to COVID-19 for one to six months and 30 healthy control volunteers for their study. The patients also completed a questionnaire about neuropathic pain and another on remaining symptoms four and twelve weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Four weeks after recovering from the first sickness, 22 of the 40 COVID-19 participants showed persisting neurological symptoms.
The researchers employed corneal confocal microscopy (CCM), a non-invasive, high-resolution imaging tool for quantifying corneal sub-basal nerve fibers and dendritic cells (DC), which are the cells that initiate an adaptive immune response. According to Live Science, previous research with other disorders revealed that damage to the cornea’s small-fiber nerves could imply comparable damage elsewhere in the body.
According to the source, research senior author Dr. Rayaz Malik of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar in Doha said, “This is almost like a very excellent barometer of nerve injury elsewhere.”
In comparison to COVID-19 patients who did not have persisting neurological symptoms, they discovered that individuals who had neurological symptoms after being diagnosed with COVID-19 had “severe” fiber nerve loss in the cornea. Those who had COVID-19 had more dendritic cells on their corneas than those who had no history of the disease, with those who had residual symptoms having a “fivefold” increase in dendritic cells compared to healthy controls.
According to the researchers, “to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study revealing corneal nerve loss and a rise in DC density in individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, notably in those with persistent symptoms consistent with protracted COVID.”
The researchers cautioned that the study was tiny and that they couldn’t be certain it was COVID-19. Brief News from Washington Newsday.