June 28, 2016

Although you will see very few cases of Zika virus in your clinics, many patients likely will ask about the condition and whether it can affect their eyes. Having answers to their questions instills patient confidence in both you and your practice.

The principal concern associated with Zika virus is the potential risk for microcephaly in infants born to pregnant mothers who become infected during the first trimester. In addition to significant birth defects, we are now learning that Zika also may cause several ocular complications—including retinal lesions and hemorrhages, as well as abnormal neovascularization. Other related findings include chorioretinal atrophy and optic nerve anomalies. One other notable finding associated with Zika infection is pigment in the macular region (i.e., pigmentary maculopathy).
A recent study indicated that two out of three children born to women infected by the Zika virus do not develop any ocular side effects.1 Unfortunately, however, those who do often experience devastating visual consequences.
1. Bruno de Paula F, Rafael de Oliveira Dias, J Prazeres et al. Ocular Findings in Infants With Microcephaly Associated With Presumed Zika Virus Congenital Infection in Salvador, Brazil. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134(5). 

"When one door closes, another opens; but, we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
Alexander Graham Bell

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