An international team of scientists has found a new long-term consequence of coronavirus infection that affects the eyes. In so-called long-term COVID-19 there is damage to nerve fibers and an increase in the number of dendritic cells in the cornea, the transparent part of the eyeball involved in light refraction. This is reported in the article.
The study involved 40 people who had COVID-19 and 30 people as controls. All subjects were interviewed about the symptoms of long-term COVID-19, and they underwent confocal corneal microscopy to quantify nerve fiber density (CNFD), corneal nerve branch density (CNBD), corneal nerve fiber length (CNFL), and total mature and immature dendritic cell density.
It appeared that patients with neurological symptoms four and twelve weeks after acute COVID-19 had lower rates of nerve fiber density, length, and branch density. In addition, they had an increased density of dendritic cells compared to the control group. Patients without neurological symptoms also had a relatively high density of dendritic cells.
As the scientists conclude, changes in the cornea of the eyes may serve as a reliable marker of long-term postcoviscence syndrome.