Why one doctor's eye turned from blue to green because of Ebola
American doctor Ian Crozier was treated for Ebola in Atlanta last year and declared free of the virus in his blood. A few months later, however, he discovered that the disease had made its way to his eye.
Crozier was infected while helping fight Ebola in Sierra Leone and spent six weeks recovering at Emory University Hospital. Crozier, 43, had multiple organ failures, spent 12 days on a ventilator and had to undergo more than three weeks of dialysis.
Upon being found clear of Ebola, Crozier returned to Emory to be treated for an eye infection. When steroids didn't help, doctors carefully took some fluid from inside the eyeball and sent it for testing.
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Sure enough, the Ebola virus was deep inside Crozier's eye, affecting his vision and causing pain. His vision deteriorated from perfect to 20/400, reported NBC.
The infection eventually resolved with more treatment, but the case is one more illustration that Ebola can leave even its lucky few survivors with long-lasting effects.
The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a report that while the Ebola virus disease can stay in the eye for weeks, it doesn’t seem to be in the tears or tissues that could infect others.
“This case highlights an important complication of Ebola virus disease with major implications for both individual and public health that are immediately relevant to the ongoing West African outbreak," Dr. Jay Varkey of Emory University Hospital and colleagues wrote in their report, which was also presented to a medical meeting in Denver, Colorado.
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“Although the pathogenesis of Ebola-associated uveitis is unknown, we believe that the severe, acute panuveitis that developed in our patient [Crozier] was a direct cytopathic effect of active replication of Ebola persisting in an immune-privileged organ,” the researchers wrote. “The acute onset of symptoms, unilateral location, and extreme elevation of intraocular pressure that were seen in our patient are clinical findings similar to infectious uveitis syndromes caused by herpesviruses, in which the pathogenesis is known to be a direct consequence of active viral replication.”
Further studies are needed to assess the persistence of Ebola during convalescence, to elucidate the mechanisms underlying this persistence in ocular and other immune-privileged tissue sites, and to develop strategies for the clinical management of Ebola complications.