Can Corona cause long-term damage to the eyes? This is what a new study suggests. Coronaviruses can enter our eyes and damage the optic nerve. Even if they initially entered the body through the mouth and nose.

Pawan Kumar Singh, assistant professor of ophthalmology, led the study. He now recommends that everyone who has ever had a corona infection have their eyes examined. Even those who had no symptoms after their infection. Consequential damage could still occur months or years after a corona infection.

But what exactly did he and his team at the University of Missouri School of Medicine find? First, they genetically modified mice in such a way that their cells were already equipped with certain docking points at birth to which coronaviruses bind. The animals then inhaled coronaviruses through their noses. Just a few hours later, the researchers observed that the viruses were also detectable on the retinas of the mice.

What is surprising is that the viruses apparently managed to break through the protective blood-retinal barrier. This is designed to protect the eye from infections by preventing microbial pathogens from reaching the retina. As the experiment shows, Sars-CoV-2, in contrast to other viruses, apparently manages to break through this barrier. The result can be inflammatory reactions in the eye, which in the worst case can lead to loss of vision.

Previously, researchers had assumed that a corona infection could lead to eye damage, especially if the virus got directly to the surface of the eyes due to a particularly high viral load in the air. What is interesting is that coronaviruses can apparently also get into the eyes in other ways – even if they originally only entered the body via the mouth or nose.

“For those who have been diagnosed with Covid-19, we recommend asking their ophthalmologist to look for signs of pathological changes in the retina,” recommends study leader Singh. “Even those who had no symptoms could suffer damage to their eyes over time due to Covid-19-related complications.”