AP NEWS

Yale study links Zika to glaucoma

November 30, 2016 GMT

You can add glaucoma to the list of afflictions linked to Zika virus, according to a new study from researchers in Brazil and at the Yale School of Public Health.

According to a news release from Yale, team has published the first report demonstrating that the Zika virus can cause glaucoma in infants who were exposed to it during gestation. Exposure to the Zika virus during pregnancy causes birth defects of the central nervous system, including microcephaly. Brazilian and Yale School of Public Health researchers had reported early during the microcephaly epidemic that the virus also causes severe lesions in the retina, the posterior portion of the eye. However, until now, there has been no evidence that Zika causes glaucoma, a condition that can result in permanent damage to the optic nerve and blindness.

Dr. Albert Icksang Ko, professor at the Yale School of Public Health and co-author of the study, has worked with scientists in Brazil since Zika first appeared in the Americas to better understand the birth defects caused by the virus.

While conducting their investigations of the microcephaly epidemic in Northeast Brazil, the researchers identified a three-month-old boy who was exposed to Zika virus during gestation. While no signs of glaucoma were present at the time of birth, the infant developed swelling, pain, and tearing in the right eye. The research team diagnosed glaucoma as the cause of symptoms and together with local ophthalmologists, performed a trabeculectomy, an operation that successfully alleviated the pressure within the eye.

While this is the first known incidence of glaucoma in an infant with the Zika virus, clinicians treating patients with Zika should be aware that glaucoma is another serious symptom of the disease that should be monitored, said the investigators. Additional research is needed to determine if glaucoma in infants with Zika is caused by indirect or direct exposure to the virus, either during gestation or postpartum.