INTERNATIONAL: Study in Brazil links Zika virus to eye damage in babies

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INTERNATIONAL: Study in Brazil links Zika virus to eye damage in babies
Infant with microcephaly
Infant with microcephaly
Infant with microcephaly

NY TIMES – Infants infected with the Zika virus may be born not only with unusually small heads, but also with eye abnormalities that threaten vision, researchers reported on Tuesday in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

The study described damage to the retina or optic nerve in 10 of 29 newborns examined at Roberto Santos General Hospital in Salvador, Brazil. All the infants were presumed to have been infected with the Zika virus and had small heads, a condition called microcephaly. Other causes of the defect, like infection with rubella or toxoplasmosis, were ruled out.

Seven out of the 10 newborns had defects in both eyes, while three infants had damage in a single eye. The most common problems were black speckled lesions in the back of the eye, large areas of tissue damage in the retina itself, or damage in the layer of blood vessels and tissue below the retina.

“Exactly how much these babies can see is unknown at this point,” said Dr. Lee M. Jampol, a professor of ophthalmology at Northwestern University, who co-wrote an editorial accompanying the study. But, he added, “when we can see these lesions, that means there’s damage.”

“Exactly how much these babies can see is unknown at this point,” said Dr. Lee M. Jampol, a professor of ophthalmology at Northwestern University, who co-wrote an editorial accompanying the study. But, he added, “when we can see these lesions, that means there’s damage.”

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