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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Unilateral Optic Neuritis Associated with SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A Rare Complication

Challenging differential diagnosis, Rare coexistence of disease or pathology

Kitson Deane, Azza Sarfraz, Zouina Sarfraz, Dhiviyan Valentine ORCID logo, Abidemi Rachael Idowu ORCID logo, Vincent Sanchez ORCID logo

USA Department of Medicine, Woodhull Medical Center, New York City, NY, USA

Am J Case Rep 2021; 22:e931665

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.931665

Available online: 2021-05-26

Published: 2021-06-13


BACKGROUND: Since the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 infection, extensive research has been conducted on the pulmonary implications of this novel disease. However, there has been limited data on the extrapulmonary manifestations. There have been few documented causes of optic involvement and little is understood about the pathophysiology around its presentation and the possible treatments to prevent long-term complications. Here, we describe a case of optic neuritis in a female patient concurrently infected with SARS-CoV-2. Given the plethora of evidence supporting neurological manifestations of the virus, we hypothesize that there is an association between our patient’s optic neuritis and her infection with SARS-CoV-2.
CASE REPORT: A 21-year-old woman with no past medical history who presented with blurry vision in her left eye. Optic neuritis was suspected with physical examination and confirmed with imaging of the optic nerve. Further diagnostic evaluation was nonsuggestive of multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating diseases; however, the patient was found to be positive for SARS-CoV-2. Steroids and remdesivir treatment were started, but without the presence of any respiratory symptoms. The patient’s symptoms completely resolved by day 5 of hospitalization and she was discharged home without any complications.
CONCLUSIONS: Optic neuritis has remained an uncommon complication of SARS-CoV-2. This rather rare complication of SARS-CoV-2 is one that clinicians should be cognizant of due to the long-term implications of optic neuritis. Furthermore, it is pertinent to consider ophthalmic involvement in SARS-CoV-2 infection to appropriately guide patient care during the pandemic, as prompt treatment can lead to improved outcomes.

Keywords: Blindness, COVID-19, optic neuritis