A study published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology reports that Zika virus may not only cause infants to be born with unusually small heads but also with abnormal eyes. The study is based on the findings of the newborns at Santos General Hospital in Salvador, Brazil in which, at least 10 out of 29 infants infected with Zika virus had a damaged retina and an optic nerve.
At least 7 out of the 10 newborns had defect in both the eyes while the rest had one damaged eye. The most common problems were black speckled lesions in the back of the eye, large areas of tissue damage in and below the retina and damage in the layer of blood vessels. According to Dr. Lee M Jampol, co–writer of the study, it is unclear at this moment as to how much the babies can see but the eyes are damaged since the lesions can be seen.
Although the lesions cannot be repaired but earlier the diagnosis, better the treatment. Senior author Dr. Rubens Belfort Jr. said, “Based on my experience, I would say a large number of these kids will be blind”. Though the study lacks concrete proof of any link between Zika and the vision abnormalities, authors suggest regular eye check–ups for infants born with microcephaly (small heads) in areas where Zika infections are on a rampage.