Some people are scared coronavirus might transmit through the eyes, others believe the vaccine can damage their vision. What is the true?
Fear of side effects, including those related to vision, it is the main reason why some people around the world are reluctant to be vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, so far there is not a clear scientific evidence of widespread, vision-related side effects of the vaccine has yet to be discovered.
You should keep in mind, however, that at least one isolated incident of an eye-related side effect has been reported in the U.S.A.: a healthcare professional reported swollen eyes after being vaccinated against COVID-19. Local safety organizations are investigating this event, as well as some other rare allergic reactions to the coronavirus vaccine, produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.
Side effects caused by the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine are reported to be “mild to moderate,” according to some final study published by the World Health Organization (WHO).
When side effects occurred among patients, the most reported reactions were:
Symptoms discovered immediately after injection, including pain, swelling and redness.
Aggressive symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever.
Other symptoms reported has been said to be: headache and nausea.
A World Health Organization (WHO) report about Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine reported similar side effects.
Eye Care Doctors suggest this about COVID-19
Potential side effects have not prevented eye care professionals from deciding to get their COVID-19 vaccines and, in some cases, administering them themselves.
In many parts of the world, ophthalmologists and their personnel are treated as high-priority groups for vaccination.
In guidelines published by the worldwide College of Optometrists some information stated:
Optical staff will be treated as frontline health and social care workers and are included in the second priority group in the vaccination program
Where possible, these early vaccinations will protect opticians and their patients by reducing or preventing transmission of the virus.
Ophthalmologists, worldwide, are also involved in the fight against COVID-19.
Eye problems among children with COVID-19
Although COVID-19 vaccines have not been linked to any serious vision problems, researchers have detected eye problems in several children who were infected with this virus. Some study discovered that nearly a quarter of the children in a Chinese hospital, who had received treatment in January, February and March 2020 for COVID-19, had developed some mild eye problems. These problems were conjunctivitis-related eye discharge, eye rubbing, eye pain, and swollen eyelids.
However, this study was not conclusive. This researchers was able to only review the conditions of no more than 216 pediatric patients.
Eye problems related with the use of other vaccines
Although so far the COVID-19 vaccines have not caused specific vision-related side effects, there are some vaccines for other pathologies that have been reported to eye and vision problems. The following is a summary of those reported problems:
Seasonal flu vaccine
In some cases, some patients who decided to use the flu vaccine experienced mild symptoms such as eye redness, eye pain and blurred vision.
Common side effects of the flu vaccine was reported to be soreness, redness or swelling, along with headache, fever, nausea and muscle aches.
Measles, mumps and rubella vaccination
A study published in 2008 declared that optic neuritis is a rare complication of the measles-rubella vaccine. Optic neuritis is an inflammation affecting the optic nerve that is in charge to move signals from the back of the eye to the brain.
Common side effects of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is said to be fever, mild rash, swelling of the cheeks or cervical glands, and temporary joint pain (mainly in teenagers and adult women). Rare side effects include brief seizures and low platelet counts. In very rare cases, measles, mumps and rubella vaccine may provoke deafness, prolonged seizures, coma or even brain damage.
Herpes zoster and varicella vaccines
One study found rare cases of corneal inflammation in children and adults when they received the shingles virus vaccine.
Common side effects of the varicella vaccine include arm pain and mild rash at the injection site, temporary joint pain and stiffness, and fever. In the case of the shingles vaccine, the main side effects include arm pain, redness and swelling or tiredness, muscle pain, headache, chills, fever, stomach pain and nausea.
Measles can cause eye problems
Worldwide, measles causes up to 60,000 cases of blindness each year. Other possible measles-related vision problems include:
Red, watery eyes as a result of conjunctivitis
Keratitis, an infection of the cornea
Scarring of the cornea
Retinopathy, which damages the retina and can provoke temporary or permanent vision loss.
Measles vaccination is suggested to be one of the best option to prevent this disease and, therefore, to prevent related vision problems.
Shingles vaccine may prevent vision problems
The ophthalmologist recommends that if you are over age 50, you should receive the shingles vaccine to avoid an “extremely painful and disfiguring complication” called herpes zoster ophthalmicus, which provoke blindness in your eyes.
If the herpes zoster virus infects the nerves of the eye, this can result in:
Infection and inflammation of the cornea
Sensitivity to bright light
Pain and swelling inside the eye
Swelling of the optic nerve behind the eye
Corneal rupture requiring corneal transplant
Although several vaccines can cause mainly mild vision-related side effects, there is no scientific evidence that your COVID-19 vaccine can provoke eye-related side effects. Experts say the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine overcome any possible side effects.