Covid may increase risk of ‘sight-threatening’ eye clots – signs you’ve had an eye stroke

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There is overwhelming evidence that the coronavirus vaccine is winning the race to tame the virus, but the long-term impact on welfare remains a cause for concern. By measuring the outcomes of coronavirus cases, researchers are better able to determine the disease that ensues. In recent efforts, a team of researchers set out to measure COVID-19’s effect on ocular vessel health. Their data highlights a growing prevalence of “eye stroke”, which has become 35 percent more common in the Covid era, compared to pre-Covid infection rates.

READ MORE: Covid: Three most common symptoms ‘lingering’ months after initial infection – new study

The researchers counted 65 cases of retinal vein occlusion in patients with coronavirus over a period of six months.

Medscape summarised the findings of the study with the statement: “While that number is low, it reflects a statistically significant 54 percent increase compared to pre-COVID infection rates.”

The data, published in the JAMA Ophthalmology, suggests retinal artery clots were 35 percent more common after COVID-19 than before – a difference that is not statistically significant, according to the scientists.

What’s more, the clots most often occurred in patients with other conditions that increase their risk of blood vessel problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

No correlation was found between clot risk and the severity of the coronavirus infection.

It is worth noting that the data provides insufficient evidence that coronavirus causes vascular obstructions in the retina, warranting further studies to elucidate this assumption.

But the data nonetheless reinforces concerns that the health effects of the virus will linger long after the pandemic is tamed.

Retinal artery clots are defined by the health body Most Sinai as a condition where the arteries leading to the eye become blocked due to a blood clot or fat deposit getting stuck in the passageway.

The condition is strongly associated with the hardening of the arteries, which typically results from years of uncorrected hypercholesterolemia.

As the artery supplying the eye becomes blocked, this causes damage to the nerve tissue that is responsible for vision loss.

Seeking treatment as soon as symptoms appear is critical, as ocular strokes can foreshadow a more serious ischaemic attack.

The health institution Penn Medicine explains: “Most people with eye stroke notice a loss of vision in one eye upon waking in the morning with no pain.

“Some people notice a dark area or shadows in their vision that affects the upper and lower half of their visual field.”

Other symptoms may include loss of visual contrast and increased sensitivity to light, according to the health body.

Occasionally, floaters – which appear as tall grey spots floating in your field of vision – are found to be symptomatic of eye stroke.

While the condition is painless, it can be dangerous and potentially debilitating, as vision damage can become irreversible if left untreated.

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