PEOPLE who contract Covid-19 could be left with potentially dangerous “nodules” on their eyeballs, doctors have warned.
Researchers believe the nodules could be linked with inflammation triggered by the virus.
The three main symptoms of Covid-19 are a new persistent cough, a loss of taste and smell (anosmia) and a high temperature.
If you have any of these symptoms the NHS says you should get a test and isolate.
But some people have been known to have different symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and even conjunctivitis.
Experts at the University of Paris have now claimed that people severely affected by Covid symptoms have been found to have unusual abnormalities in their eyes.
It is not known if the nodules cause any pain to the patients and what the effects are of the growths.
The experts analysed MRI scans of 129 patients who suffered severe Covid symptoms and revealed nine of them had one or more abnormalities on the back of their eye balls.
If a patient is hospitalised with Covid-19 they are often placed lying on their fronts in order to help them breathe.
This is called prone positioning and helps patients get a stronger flow of oxygen into their lungs.
The experts said that this could be one reason why the eyes are developing nodules as the veins in the eye are not being allowed to be drained.
All the affected patients who took part in the study had been lying in this position while in intensive care.
Of the nine patients with eye nodules, two had diabetes, six were obese and two had hypertension.
The team behind the findings, published in the journal Radiology, also speculate the nodules could be connected to intubation – this is when a tube is placed through the mouth and into the airway and is done so that a patient can be put on a ventilator.
So far in the UK the pandemic has claimed that lives of over 117,000 people in the UK.
The virus is known to attack the lungs but has also been linked with other conditions such as conjunctivitis and retinopathy – a disease of the retina that can result in a loss of vision.
At the start of the pandemic it was reported that that virus could linger in a patients eyes for weeks.
A recent study also found that having sore, itchy eyes was one of the most significant ocular symptom in Covid patients.
Scientists fear that eye issues could be being overlooked as doctors scramble treat other symptoms.
They are now calling on health bosses to include eye screening for all Covid patients admitted to intensive care.
Study lead author Dr Augustin Lecler, of the University of Paris, said: “We showed that a few patients with severe Covid-19 from the French Covid-19 cohort had one or several nodules of the posterior pole of the globe.
“This is the first time these findings have been described using MRI.
“Our study advocates for screening of all patients hospitalised in the ICU for severe Covid-19. We believe those patients should receive specific eye-protective treatments.”
In order to monitor the nodules, patients will have follow up MRI exams to monitor vision loss or visual field impairment.
They are also performing MRI exams in new patients with severe Covid-19 from the second and third waves of the pandemic, using more rigorous tests.
Meanwhile, the effects on patients with moderate Covid are currently under investigation.
Dr Lecler added: “We have launched a prospective study with dedicated high-resolution images for exploring the eye and orbit in patients with light to moderate Covid.
“Therefore, we will be able to know whether our findings were specific to severe Covid patients or not.”