HealthDay News — About one-fifth of Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone developed severe or total vision loss within weeks of being declared free of the virus, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, held from May 1 to 5 in Seattle.

“Uveitis patients developed ocular symptoms a median of 3 weeks after discharge from Ebola treatment centers” in Sierra Leone, said a team led by John Mattia, MBBS, DO, of the Lowell and Ruth Gess Eye Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Mattia’s team examined the eyes of 50 Ebola survivors with uveitis out of a group of 277 survivors. A total of 62 eyes were given visual acuity tests.

“Severe vision impairment and blindness were observed in at least 1 eye in 19 of 62 eyes [screened],” the team reported. Men and women had similar risk of vision loss, and the duration of Ebola symptoms did not seem to affect the odds that a patient might suffer eye damage, the researchers found.

Mattia’s team said that while further study is essential, resources are urgently needed to diagnose and treat this sight-threatening post-Ebola complication across West Africa.

Abstract No. B0119
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