Because the Ebola virus (EBOV) can persist in the ocular fluid of survivors, clinicians have questioned the safety of ophthalmic surgery for those involved in the procedure. Luckily, a new study recently published in EBioMedicine provides positive outcomes of 34 cataract surgeries in EBOV survivors.1
The researchers first noted 50 participants of the Ebola Virus Persistence in Ocular Tissues and Fluids study tested negative for the virus in their ocular fluid at 19 and 34 months post-infection. Of those, 34 underwent surgery to remove EBOV-associated cataracts—with vision restorative outcomes. The patients’ visual acuities improved from hand motions to roughly 20/30 at the three-month follow up, the study reports.1
Although vision loss due to cataract is a significant cause of disability in these patients, the World Health Organization cautions against elective surgery until research uncovers more about the persistence of the virus in body fluids.1
“These findings are truly exciting, as they improve our ability to impact vision care and quality-of-life for thousands of Ebola survivors at-risk for eye disease,” study author Steven Yeh, MD, said in a press release.2
1. Shantha JG, Mattia JG, Goba A, et al. Ebola virus persistence in ocular tissues and fluids (evict) study: reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and cataract surgery outcomes of Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone. EBioMedicine. March 26, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].