Ophthalmic care vital for Zika affected babies

A small study has found new ocular conditions in Brazilian infants born with microcephaly

25 May 2016 by Olivia Wannan

Researchers are emphasising the importance of an ophthalmologist to the care of all babies with microcephaly from a suspected Zika virus infection. An international team has uncovered new ocular issues that it believes to be connected to the virus, which was declared to be a public health emergency by the World Health Organisation earlier this year.

In an article published in the journal Ophthalmology, they found haemorrhagic retinopathy, signs of missing vasculature in the retina and torpedo-shaped lesions in the macula in three infants with microcephaly born to mothers with suspected Zika infections.

Previous research has found macular atrophy in Brazilian babies with the developmental issues, as well as choroid withering and optic nerve abnormalities.

The researchers, including Stanford University ophthalmology professor, Dr Darius Moshfeghi, noted their small study size, but highlighted that the ophthalmic results are part of a growing body of research.

He explained that it remains unclear if the Zika virus directly causes the optic issues, or if the abnormalities are a secondary outcome of the microcephaly.

Dr Moshfeghi added: “The next step is to differentiate what findings are related to the Zika virus itself versus microcephaly caused by the virus in order to better understand which infants will need screening.”

All babies with microcephaly in areas with a known Zika virus infection should be examined by an ophthalmologist, the paper concluded.


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