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What You Need to Know About Ebola in the Eye

May 20, 2015

When the Ebola outbreak hit recently, the country was swept with panic. This is a disease we thought was bound to the shores of Africa. When healthcare workers brought back the disease to the United States and Ebola began to spread, there were a lot of questions.

Luckily, now the disease is under control and the possibility of outbreak and epidemic in the country has severely decreased. But word recently broke of an Ebola survivor finding that the disease was still alive and well… in his eye. What happened there? Let’s start with the basics.

What is Ebola?

To define it most basically, Ebola is a virus. The virus used to be most commonly known as the “Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever” and once people develop the symptoms of the disease, they are extremely contagious.

What are Ebola symptoms?

-High Fever
-Muscle Pain
-Sore Throat
-Blood in stool
-Internal bleeding
-Oozing of the gums
-Bleeding through the eyes and other orifices (at the later stages)

What is the treatment for Ebola?

The scary thing about Ebola is that there is currently no FDA approved treatment. That means that once diagnosed, symptoms have to be treated on an individual basis. Just because there is no cure yet though, doesn’t mean that medical and healthcare professionals haven’t discovered how to decrease the spread of the disease. To prevent the transmission of Ebola, avoid blood and other bodily fluids of someone who is infected with the disease or a person who has died from the disease. Also avoid burials of those who have suffered and died from the disease.

The Man with Ebola in his Eye

Now that we have covered the basics of the Ebola virus, we want to discuss a recent phenomenon that occurred. The name Ian Crozier may ring a bell—he’s the physician who was released in October from Emory Hospital after being treated for Ebola. It was an essential miracle that he survived the disease and he had a long road to recovery ahead of him, as the disease left his body weak.

When he began experiencing trouble with his eyesight, he assumed that his immune system was weakened from the Ebola virus and he had contracted another eye virus. However, after his eye issues worsened, Crozier sought treatment and was highly disturbed to hear that doctors had found Ebola in his eye.

What happened?

Dr. Crozier’s eyesight in his left eye quickly deteriorated. He could no longer see out of his left eye due to the inflammation. The Ebola virus even caused the feeling of his eye to change, making the texture soft and squishy. Dr. Crozier reports that, “the eye felt dead to me.” More shockingly during this process, was when Dr. Crozier awoke to find that his left iris was green; Dr. Crozier’s eyes are blue. While there are other things that can cause eye color change, this was certainly related to the Ebola virus.

So what was done to treat the eye?

Doctors first gave Dr. Crozier steroids to treat his eye, which resulted in multiple side effects such as ravenous hunger, insomnia, weight gain, high blood pressure and more. Finally, an infectious disease specialist, Dr. Jay Varkey, received special permission from the FDA to treat Dr. Crozier with an antiviral drug which is given in pill form. This combined with a steroid injection directly to his left eyeball, left Dr. Crozier finally feeling relieved as his eyesight began to improve.

What happens now?

Dr. Crozier’s eye condition will, hopefully, continue to improve. Beyond that, the doctor believes that his condition will help to prevent and cure the blindness that typically results in Ebola survivors.

Here at EyeCare2020, we’re interested in news like this that gives foresight into new medical discoveries and advances. Do you have more questions about Ebola, other eye diseases, or a less serious virus that affects eyesight? Please feel free to get in touch for a consultation today!

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