This cross-sectional study aimed to investigate the hypothesis that permanent capillary damage may underlie the long-term COVID-19 sequela by quantifying the retinal vessel integrity. Participants were divided into three subgroups; Normal controls who had not been affected by COVID-19, mild COVID-19 cases who received out-patient care, and severe COVID-19 cases requiring intensive care unit (ICU) admission and respiratory support. Patients with systemic conditions that may affect the retinal vasculature before the diagnosis of COVID-19 infection were excluded. Participants underwent comprehensive ophthalmologic examination and retinal imaging obtained from Spectral-Domain Optical Coherence Tomography (SD-OCT), and vessel density using OCT Angiography. Sixty-one eyes from 31 individuals were studied. Retinal volume was significantly decreased in the outer 3 mm of the macula in the severe COVID-19 group (p = 0.02). Total retinal vessel density was significantly lower in the severe COVID-19 group compared to the normal and mild COVID-19 groups (p = 0.004 and 0.0057, respectively). The intermediate and deep capillary plexuses in the severe COVID-19 group were significantly lower compared to other groups (p < 0.05). Retinal tissue and microvascular loss may be a biomarker of COVID-19 severity. Further monitoring of the retina in COVID-19-recovered patients may help further understand the COVID-19 sequela.

Fuente: Scientific Rerports

Published: 29 March 2023