A groundbreaking study conducted in the Huizhou region of China has revealed a significant link between testing positive for COVID-19 and the development of acute angle-closure glaucoma (AACG). The study, conducted in collaboration between Huizhou Hospital Affiliated to Guangzhou Medical University and Sun Yat-sen University, Guangdong, aimed to explore the characteristics and risk factors associated with glaucoma during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The researchers analyzed retrospective data from outpatients with glaucoma during two distinct periods: the COVID-19 pandemic phase (Phase A) and the pre-pandemic phase (Phase B). The study found that the proportion of glaucoma patients significantly increased during Phase A, with specific factors like old age, female gender, AACG, newly diagnosed glaucoma, and binocular involvement being associated with a higher rate of COVID-19 positivity. The study concluded that testing positive for COVID-19 could potentially be a risk factor for the onset of AACG.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the lives and well-being of the Chinese populace. China experienced the initial outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019, and by March 2020, it was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. While China had implemented measures to control the spread of the virus, outbreaks resurfaced in various regions, including Huizhou in Guangdong Province.
The study also highlighted significant shifts in outpatient visits and glaucoma treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Government-imposed lockdowns and mobility restrictions played a crucial role in shaping the landscape of outpatient visits. Individuals, being more health-conscious due to the fear of COVID-19, became more proactive in seeking medical attention. Changes in daily routines and extended indoor activities were observed to influence the onset of glaucoma. Additionally, certain medications used during COVID-19 treatment were found to potentially trigger acute glaucoma.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma (AACG) is a severe form of glaucoma characterized by a sudden increase in intraocular pressure. The study revealed a strong association between AACG and COVID-19, especially during the analyzed outbreak phase. Older individuals and females, particularly those with binocular involvement, who tested positive for COVID-19 were more likely to develop AACG. AACG also often manifested in patients diagnosed with COVID-19, suggesting a temporal link between the two conditions.
While the exact mechanisms underlying the connection between COVID-19 and AACG remain elusive, the study proposed several potential factors. COVID-19 may influence the function of the eye angle, potentially contributing to the onset of AACG. Certain medications used to manage COVID-19 symptoms, such as traditional Chinese medicine and cough suppressants, may indirectly trigger AACG. The study also considered the possibility that COVID-19 may affect the eye’s functionality, similar to other infections that can induce AACG.
It is important to note that the study had limitations, including its retrospective and descriptive nature and its geographical focus on Huizhou. Therefore, further comprehensive research is needed to fully understand the impact of COVID-19 on eye health, particularly in the context of glaucoma. Collaborative studies across multiple centers are essential to provide a more in-depth examination of acute glaucoma in COVID-19 patients.
In conclusion, the study conducted in the Huizhou region highlights the significant link between testing positive for COVID-19 and the potential development of glaucoma, particularly AACG. This finding emphasizes the importance of recognizing and addressing ocular complications that may arise from COVID-19, and underscores the need for strategies to anticipate and mitigate glaucoma in future waves of the pandemic.