outbrain
Close  

Zika damages babies’ eyes? Brazil study suggests a link

/ 10:19 AM February 11, 2016
FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2016 file photo, Jose Wesley, who was born with microcephaly and screams uncontrollably for long stretches, is attended to in Bonito, Pernambuco state, Brazil. The Zika virus is drawing worldwide attention to a devastating birth defect that until now has gotten little public notice. Regardless of whether the mosquito-borne virus really causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads, a variety of other conditions can trigger it.  (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

In this Jan. 30, 2016 file photo, Jose Wesley, who was born with microcephaly and screams uncontrollably for long stretches, is attended to in Bonito, Pernambuco state, Brazil. The Zika virus is drawing worldwide attention to a devastating birth defect that until now has gotten little public notice. Regardless of whether the mosquito-borne virus really causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads, a variety of other conditions can trigger it. AP

CHICAGO, United States — The Zika virus might cause eye damage in small-headed infants born to women infected during pregnancy, a small study in Brazil suggests.

The study lacks hard proof of any link with Zika and vision abnormalities, but as a precaution, the authors recommend routine vision testing in infants born with microcephaly in areas where Zika infections have occurred.

ADVERTISEMENT

Microcephaly, which has many causes, means an abnormally small head and the condition typically involves brain defects. It has made headlines because of an apparent spike in cases in Brazil where Zika infections are rampant.

READ: Brazil’s Catholic Church rejects Zika abortion argument

FEATURED STORIES

Scientists are trying to determine if the Zika (ZEE’-kuh) virus, spread by mosquito bites, can cause microcephaly. Complications from microcephaly can include vision problems, so whether Zika leads to eye damage can’t be determined from the study.

The results were published online Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

The researchers found eye damage in 10 of 29 babies born with microcephaly at the Roberto Santos General Hospital in Salvador, Brazil. The problems included abnormalities or scars in the retina and optic nerve.

The babies’ mothers were presumed to have developed Zika infections during pregnancy, and most reported symptoms including rash, fever and joint pain, according to the researchers, led by Dr. Rubens Belfort of the Federal University of Sao Paolo.

A journal editorial by two Northwestern University eye specialists notes that infections other than Zika have been linked with similar eye problems, and calls the potential link with Zika “presumptive.” Drs. Lee Jampol and Debra Goldstein say it’s unclear if the eye lesions found in the study occur in babies without microcephaly, so they don’t recommend routine eye tests in all babies in Zika-infested regions.

But vision tests are warranted for microcephaly babies in those regions, given the study results, so that any affected infants can be followed and given glasses, eye patches or other treatment as they mature, Jampol said. He said the damage seen in the study is likely irreversible, but it’s too soon to know if any of the babies will be blind.

___

ADVERTISEMENT

Online:

Journal: http://bit.ly/1KbSlcu

Zika: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/index.html

RELATED

Zika virus a threat to PH

Read Next
EDITORS' PICK
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Brazil, eye damage, infants, Microcephaly, news, pregnancy, Zika
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.