Ebola, the virus known as the death sentence strikes again.

WHO (World Health Organization) declared that the Ebola epidemic has died down. However many survivors are facing new challenges after being declared free of the virus in the blood. This is the case with Dr. Ian Crozier who ended up with a changed eye color after fighting Ebola.

Dr. Ian Crozier contracted the disease in Sierra Leone while serving in a hospital. He was treated for Ebola at the Emory University Hospital in September for more than a month. He survived a very ill condition and he was discharged from the hospital free of Ebola. Two months later he began having trouble with light sensitivity and a sense of burning eyes. His eye problems worsened and he returned to the Emory with severe pain in his eye.

Doctors stood in the face of a mystery, Crozier iris had turned green and he had almost lost all of his vision in his left eye. Ophthalmologist Dr. Steven Yeh did some diagnostic tests. He removed some fluid from his eye, and the fluid tested positive for the virus. The virus wasn’t active thus it was not replicating. It was not present in the tear and in the outer membrane of the eye so there was no risk of spreading the virus. However it had done some damages in the back of the retina which were responsible for the observed symptoms, but the color change remains a mystery. Dr. Foster, a clinical professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, states that it can be due to a transformation in the metabolism of the iris cells, but he is not sure which exact metabolic change is involved.

At first, Crozier thought the problem resembled an immune-related complication after a virus infection. Some doctors think the reason may be in the so called “immune privileged” places which include the eye and the testicles. These two organs are separated from the immune system since the immune response might harm them, thus making them ideal places for the virus to linger. 

As much as a mystery this may stay, Crozier was lucky. His vision and eye color returned to normal after receiving steroids and antiviral treatment.

Cases like this, where survivors face health conditions after contracting Ebola are not rare. In fact, it has been reported that in West Africa a lot of survivors deal with chronic pain, headaches, a lack of menstrual periods, fatigue, hearing loss and blurred vision. These conditions can be very hard to face after dealing hell with Ebola, but Crozier and other doctors believe that the more cases are identified the better their management will be.

References:

  1. http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/ebola-changed-survivors-eye-colour-blue-green
  2. http://www.popsci.com/ebola-changed-doctors-eye-color
  3. http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/08/health/ebola-eye-american-doctor/
  4. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/08/health/ebola-eye-color-change-mystery.html?_r=0
  5. http://www.popsci.com/ebola-changed-doctors-eye-color

 

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