Visual impairments increased due to COVID-related stress, study finds

Research conducted at the Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital discovered a 200% increase in patients with visual impairments since the outbreak of COVID-19.

 Professor Joseph Pikkel testing a patient's eyesight as part of research on the connction between COVID-19 and sight-impairment (photo credit: COURTESY)
Professor Joseph Pikkel testing a patient's eyesight as part of research on the connction between COVID-19 and sight-impairment
(photo credit: COURTESY)

The number of people with visual impairments rose as a result of stress experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research has found.

The study was conducted at Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital by Dr. Tal Yahalomi and overseen by Professor Joseph Pikkel. The results have not been published yet in a peer-reviewed journal.

Hospital researchers focused on approximately 100 patients in the Ophthalmology Department and found a link between the outbreak of COVID-19 and an increase in Central Serous Chorioretinopathy (CRS), a disease in which fluid builds up under the retina that can lead to distorted vision. The number of CRS cases shot up by 200% during the COVID-19 period and decreased in correlation with the decrease in COVID-19 cases.

Studies in the past have found a connection between CRS and stress, and researchers think that the added stress experienced during the pandemic, caused by health and economic worries due to extended lockdowns, led to the rise in the disease.

Patients usually recover from CRS without needing any medical treatment. 

 Professor Joseph Pikkel (credit: COURTESY) Professor Joseph Pikkel (credit: COURTESY)

Another new study found that COVID-19 could have been made worse by people who were already suffering from anxiety.

The peer-reviewed research, conducted at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and published in Nature, found that in mice, acute stress can be detrimental to fighting off infection, especially COVID-19, and increases the likelihood of dying.