A protein component of SARS-Cov-2 was found in various eye tissues of a 64-year-old patient. The patient was hospitalized with Covid-19 in January 2020. The proteins in her eyes were identified two months later when she suffered from eye pain.
The coronavirus appears to be able to enter many organs of the human body after entering the airways. Two scientists from a hospital in Wuhan, China, described the unusual case of a patient suffering from glaucoma after the recovery from Covid-19. Coronavirus proteins were isolated from several eye cells two months after her infection. The results are described in detail in Jama Ophthalmology.
SARS-CoV-2 proteins in different eye tissues
The patient is a 64-year-old woman who was hospitalized at the beginning of the pandemic at the end of January 2020. She was diagnosed with fever and diarrhea and was diagnosed with Covid-19. Eighteen days later she was discharged from the hospital, standing again.
However, at the end of February, the patient complained of pain in her left eye and loss of visual acuity. She was diagnosed with angle block glaucoma and cataract. Unfortunately, the usual treatments had no effect on the intraocular pressure, so she underwent trabeculectomy, a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the trabecular tissue, a tissue located between the iris and the cornea. During the operation, the ophthalmologist also took samples of the conjunctiva and iris.
The protein that makes up the nucleocapsid of the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus has been detected in the patient’s connective tissue, trabecular, and iris cells. Blood tests for the same protein in plasma were negative.
The case of this patient suggests that the coronavirus can infect certain cells in the eye, but the mechanism of infection is unclear. The cells that form the conjunctiva express the ACE2 receptor and could serve as a gateway for the coronavirus. This is only a hypothesis. Previous studies have reported the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 genome in the eyes of some infected individuals, but with a very low incidence.