Zika virus has now been linked to vision problems in babies. Zika virus is already associated with microcephaly, which is a birth defect that causes abnormally small heads and brains in babies. Research has found that one-third of Brazilian babies with microcephaly also have vision problems as well, including ocular lesions, optic nerve abnormalities, and chorioretinal atrophy.
The latest findings looked at three Brazilian infants with microcephaly in which researchers discovered new vision problems, including retinal lesions, bleeding in the retina, and abnormal blood vessel development in the retina. The infants not only had these vision problems, but also the vision problems reported in previous studies.
The new findings add evidence to the growing mound of research that Zika virus is harmful to babies and pregnant women. As of yet, it is not clear how exactly Zika virus contributes to vision problems, so additional research is required.
Senior author Dr. Darius Moshfeghi said, “To my knowledge, the eye problems we found have not been associated with Zika virus before. The next step is to differentiate what findings are related to the Zika virus itself versus microcephaly caused by the virus, in order to better understand which infants will need screening.”
The findings were published in Ophthalmology.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article on Zika virus update: Zika pregnancy cases in U.S. triple, Zika infection may spread to Europe this summer.