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21 December 2010
Chikungunya of the eye makes an appearance
The chikungunya virus, which leaves people with severe pain in the joints, is now affecting the eye too. Several samples of eye serum sent from the Government Ophthalmic Hospital in Egmore have tested positive for chikungunya at the King Institute of Preventive Medicine.
"Medical journals have reported ocular manifestation of the virus. In most cases, people who reported the infection had high fever, joint pain and blurring of vision. We have sent samples to the lab. It requires a detailed study," said Government Ophthalmic Hospital superintendent Dr Vasantha.
Doctors advise people with irritation of the eye, swelling or blurring vision to approach an ophthalmologist immediately. With the ocular manifestation yet to be studied in detail, experts are yet to evolve a standard treatment protocol.
Chikungunya is a viral fever caused by the bite of aedes, a mosquito that breeds in fresh water. The bite of an infected mosquito transmits the virus, causing fever up to 39 degrees Celsius, headache, red eyes and irritation of the eye. Severe pain in the joints can make the patient develop a temporary stooping posture.
"In the eye region, there are different forms of manifestations. In some cases, it affects the optic nerve. In some others, it can affect conjuctiva, the outer layer of the eye. If untreated, the infection may lead to blindness," she said.
New virus strain to be studied: Doctor
Chennai: The chikungunya virus is now affecting the eye as well. Doctors at the King Institute virology laboratory said samples sent by the eye hospital had tested positive for chikungunya. "We don’t yet know how many people have the infection. All patients tested positive for chikungunya may not have ocular problems," said Dr P Gunasekaran, deputy director, King Institute of Preventive Medicine. "To study the disease in detail, we will have to test more samples," he said.
"Viral infections have gone up. Most of them affect the conjunctiva and the sensitivity of the eye goes down. The patient does not realise there could be an eye infection," said ophthalmic surgeon Dr Amar Agarwal, who heads Agarwal Eye Hospital.