AIIMS conducts study on presence of COVID-19 in eyes

COVID-19 in eyes: AIIMS is conducting a study to check if coronavirus can be present in various layers of the human eye. Know details.

Created On: Sep 8, 2021 13:50 IST
AIIMS, Source: PTI
AIIMS, Source: PTI

COVID-19 in eyes: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is studying if coronavirus can be present in various layers of the human eye. On September 7, 2021, the Institute informed that for six months, the Ophthalmology department of the RP Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences at AIIMS has been conducting a study on the samples of eyeballs of those who died due to COVID-19. The study will be conducted on corneoscleral rims of eyes, said Dr JS Titityal, Chief, RP Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences at AIIMS.

Why is AIIMS conducting study to track COVID-19 in eyeballs?

Tissues of the eyeballs retrieved between July 2020 and July 2021 by AIIMS were not used for corneal transplantation. 5.5 per cent of the donors who were presumed COVID-19 negative tested RT-PCR positive for COVID-19. The tissues of these donors were sent for further microbiological analysis.

During the RT-PCR test of the eye donors, 10 COVID-19 infected corneas tissues were found. These tissues have been sent for further study.

In India, approximately 6.8 million people are found to have unilateral corneal blindness and approximately a million people suffer from bilateral corneal blindness. Doctors say that once there is a receptor on the eyes, coronavirus can get attached and remain there. Experts have not found any direct link between COVID-19 and blindness. However, cases of COVID-19 leading to mucormycosis have been detected that in turn has impacted the vision of the eyes.

How is AIIMS tracking COVID-19 in eyeballs?

Two whole eyeballs have been taken for the first and primary study while samples of corneoscleral rims of 24 eyeballs have been taken for the second study.

Dr Titiyal said AIIMS is conducting both studies because reports had detected the virus in the conjunctiva of COVID-19 infected people. Therefore, the study will help in finding if coronavirus is present in other parts of the eyes.

The study involves analyzing the samples of eyeballs of COVID-19 positive donors to find if there is a residual of coronavirus in the cornea, optic nerve, retina, or gels.

A molecular study of the samples of these eyeballs is also being conducted in collaboration with other departments of AIIMS. The study will help in tracking if any particles of coronavirus are present in any of the layers of the cornea or not.

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