Vision problems may be an underreported effect of chikungunya fever after a patient who contracted the illness suffered from permanent vision loss after her right optic nerve swelled as part of her body’s inflammatory reaction to the virus.

A woman, aged 69, contracted chikungunya fever in Grenada in July 2014 and her symptoms included muscle weakness in her face; she received steroids from a local doctor to treat this. When she returned home to the United Kingdom in August 2014, most of her symptoms improved but she began to have difficulties seeing with her right eye. Doctors spent the next six days conducting tests to rule out other conditions that could be contributing to the vision loss and when no other causes could be identified, treatment with steroids was initiated.

Unfortunately, the steroids were not initiated soon enough and her vision remains 20/80 in the right eye. This is the first known case in the United Kingdom of a patient developing vision problems due to chikungunya fever but other doctors have detected eye issues in patients infected with chikungunya. This case may help emphasize the urgency in treating eye-problem complications associated with chikungunya, the authors concluded.

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