Cataract Surgery on Ebola Survivors Safe for Docs

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WEDNESDAY, April 11, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors needn't worry when they perform cataract surgery on Ebola survivors with eye problems caused by the highly contagious virus, a new study finds.

Between 13 percent and 34 percent of Ebola survivors develop eye inflammation (uveitis) that causes problems ranging from mild disease to blindness.

It was thought that Ebola could linger in eye fluid even after it had been cleared from the rest of the body, posing a risk to health care workers who come in close contact with survivors.

But in this study, researchers tested 50 Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone and found no evidence of the Ebola virus in their eye fluid. Thirty-four of the survivors later had cataract surgery that led to improved vision.

"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 Dr. Steven Yeh said in an Emory University news release. He is an associate professor of ophthalmology, uveitis and vitreoretinal surgery at Emory's Eye Center in Atlanta.

The researchers noted that they could not determine if any of the survivors still had Ebola virus in their eye fluid at earlier points in time when they still had eye inflammation.

Thousands of survivors of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 are at risk for vision complications, so it is urgent to meet the needs of their ongoing medical and surgical eye care, the study authors said.

The study was published recently in the journal EBioMedicine.

More information

The World Health Organization has more on Ebola.

SOURCE: Emory University, news release, April 4, 2018

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