Sight loss and Ebola

Study reveals one in five Ebola survivors developed uveitis while one in ten were legally blind

20 Jan 2017 by Selina Powell

A potentially blinding eye disease has been highlighted as a possible long-term complication of Ebola virus.

As part of a study published in Ophthalmology, Emory Eye Centre physicians examined 96 patients recovering from Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Liberia.

They found that 21 patients had developed EVD-associated uveitis, and were therefore at risk of reduced vision or blindness as a complication of the inflammatory eye disease.

The study reported that 40% of the Ebola survivors with uveitis were legally blind based on the World Health Organisation classification.

As well as uveitis, three patients from the group developed a EVD-associated optic neuropathy.

Emory Eye Centre, assistant professor of ophthalmology, Brent Hayek explained that the research was an opportunity to help patients better understand the vision issues that could result from the disease.

"We’ve also been able to teach and train local providers in Liberia how to best screen and examine survivors with ocular issues and use a mobile clinic design to do it most efficiently,” he highlighted.

Cataracts and vitreous opacity, which can both be complications of untreated uveitis, were also found among the patient group.

UK residents were among the team of international health workers who travelled to West Africa following the EVD outbreak in 2014.

More than 10,000 EVD cases were reported in Liberia during an outbreak in 2014. Two other West African nations were also affected; Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In total, more than 28,600 cases and 11,300 deaths from the disease were reported by the World Health Organisation during the 2014 outbreak. 

Image credit: NIAID


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