AIIMS conducts study on presence of residual coronavirus in eyes

In India, an estimated 6.8-million people have unilateral corneal blindness and at least a million people have bilateral corneal blindness (Image for representation). (AP)

To ascertain whether coronavirus can be present in various layers of the eye, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences said on Tuesday that it has been for the past few months conducting a study on samples of enucleated eyeballs collected from those who succumbed to COVID-19.

Conducted by the hospital's ophthalmology department, the study will be conducted on corneoscleral rims of eyes, the centre's chief, JS Titiyal said.

Of the tissues retrieved between July 2020 and July 2021 by AIIMS, it was found that 5.5 per cent of the presumed COVID-19 negative donors tested RT-PCR positive for SARS-CoV2. The tissue of these patients was not used for corneal transplantation and it was subject to further microbiological analysis.

In India, an estimated 6.8-million people have unilateral corneal blindness and at least a million people have bilateral corneal blindness.

In the first study, the samples of the whole eyeball are being taken while in the second study, the samples of corneoscleral rims are practical

Once there is a receptor on the eyes the virus can get attached and it may remain there.

For the first and primary study, samples of two eyeballs are being evaluated, while for the second study, the samples of 24 eyeballs have been taken.

The team under Dr JS Titiyal, chief Dr RP Centre, AIIMS is conducting both studies.

Dr. Titiyal told ANI, "COVID-19 can affect the eyes also. There are reports that the virus was detected in the conjunctiva of COVID-infected people. We thought of doing the study to check if the virus is present in other parts of the eyes."

"Secondly, we used to conduct the RT-PCR test of the eye donors. In the test, we got ten virus-infected corneas tissues. These tissues were sent for further study," said Dr Titiyal.

The chief said, "These cornea tissue samples will help to detect if there is a virus(sic). Once the result is out, a clear idea will emerge if we can use these tissues for corneal transplantation in future."

"In the study, the samples of eyeballs of Covid-19 positive patients are being analysed to ascertain whether there is a residual of virus present in cornea, retina, optic nerve or the gels...," said Dr Titiyal.

A molecular study on them is also going on in collaboration with the others departments of AIIMS.

The study is going on to see if any virus particles are present in any of the layers of the cornea or not.

The study has been going on for the past six months and the result is expected to be out soon.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.


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