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Sci Rep ; 11(1): 19373, 2021 09 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1442809


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 primarily affecting the respiratory system which can damage vessels walls virtually in any body district. Changes affecting retinal vessels are a good marker for systemic vascular alterations. This study investigated retinal vessels during the acute phase of COVID-19 and after patients recovery. Fifty-nine eyes from 32 COVID-19 patients and 80 eyes from 53 unexposed subjects were included. Mean arteries diameter (MAD) and mean veins diameter (MVD) were assessed through semi-automatic analysis on fundus color photos at baseline and 6 months later in patients and subjects unexposed to the virus. At baseline MAD and MVD were significantly higher in COVID-19 patients compared to unexposed subjects (p < 0.0001). Both MAD and MVD significantly decreased in COVID-19 patients at follow-up (from 97.5 ± 10.9 to 92.2 ± 11.4 µm, p < 0.0001 and from 133.1 ± 19.3 to 124.6 ± 16.1 µm, p < 0.0001, respectively). Despite this reduction vessels diameter remained significantly higher in severe COVID-19 patients compared to unexposed subjects. Transient retinal vessels dilation could serve a biomarker for systemic inflammation while long-lasting alterations seen in severe COVID-19 likely reflect irreversible structural damage to the vessels walls and should be further investigated for their possible effects on tissues perfusion and function.

COVID-19/complications , Retinal Vessels/pathology , Adult , Aged , Female , Fluorescein Angiography , Fundus Oculi , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Retina/diagnostic imaging , Retina/pathology , SARS-CoV-2 , Young Adult