Significant abnormalities found in eyes of people with severe Covid-19

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 22, 2021

Researchers at the French Society of Neuroradiology (SFNR) have found significant abnormalities in the eyes of some people struggling with Covid-19 severity.

The brain MRI scans carried out by the researchers noted potentially severe ophthalmological manifestations of Covid-19. The researchers further supported the need for eye screening in these patients to provide appropriate treatment

Earlier studies have shown that some Covid-19 symptoms can be linked to eye infections such as conjunctivitis and retinopathy.


The findings of the study revealed that of the 129 patients, nine (7 per cent) had abnormal MRI findings of the eyeball. The MRI scans showed one or more nodules in the back part of the eyeball. Eight of the nine patients had spent time in the intensive care unit for Covid-19.

“We showed that a few patients with severe Covid-19 from the French Covid-19 cohort had one or several nodules of the posterior pole of the globe,” said study lead author Augustin Lecler, MD, PhD, associate professor at the University of Paris and neuroradiologist from the Department of Neuroradiology at the Foundation Adolphe de Rothschild Hospital in Paris.

He added: “This is the first time these findings have been described using MRI.”

The findings noted that all nine patients had nodules in the area in the back of the eye responsible for our central vision. Eight had nodules in both eyes.

The results suggest that all patients, especially those admitted to ICU, should be screened to detect these nodules.

Dr Lecler believes that severe eye problems may largely go unnoticed in the clinic, as Covid-19 patients hospitalised in the ICU are often being treated for life-threatening conditions that have larger implications.

The researchers are yet to figure out the reason behind the nodule formation. However, they speculated that this could be because of the inflammation triggered by SARS-CoV-2. Inadequate drainage of the veins of the eyes, a problem found in patients who spend time in the ICU in the prone position or intubated, could also be a contributing factor.

The researchers intend to expand the scope of their study by carrying out MRI scans on COVID-19 survivors and people with mild to moderate COVID-19.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Radiological Society of North America.

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Published on February 22, 2021
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