To describe clinical, radiographic, laboratory and cytopathologic findings in 2 patients who developed vision loss due to endogenous aspergillus endophthalmitis during hospitalization for COVID-19 pneumonia.
Two unvaccinated sexagenarian male smokers lost vision within one month of contracting COVID-19 pneumonia. Initially, both received high dose steroids, nasal cannula oxygen and remdesivir. Immunomodulators tocilizumab or baricitinib were added during week 2 in case 1 and 2 respectively. Upon presentation after discharge from a post-COVID rehabilitation unit, visual acuities were light perception and hand motion. In both cases, inpatient blood and ocular fluid cultures were negative, serum 1,3-beta-D-glucan was positive, and vitreous cytopathology revealed filamentous fungi and PCR was positive for Aspergillus fumigatus. Large solitary intravitreal fungus balls were debulked in patient 1 and excised in patient 2. Final visual acuities were no light perception and 20/200 respectively. MRI revealed previously unsuspected brain and lung lesions consistent with disseminated aspergillosis in patient 2.
Vision loss due to fungal endophthalmitis may be the first or only sign of systemic aspergillosis associated with COVID-19 pneumonia. Aspergillosis should be suspected in patients who develop vision loss. Diagnosis limited by negative fungal cultures may be confirmed by vitreous cytopathology and PCR. Systemic imaging for disseminated aspergillosis is indicated. Ultimate visual acuity may depend upon surgical approach.
Vrabec, Tamara R.; Anderson, David R.; Shaw, Priyal K.; and Milman, Tatyana, "Sudden Vision Loss Heralding Covid-19-Associated Aspergillosis. Report of 2 Cases" (2023). Wills Eye Hospital Papers. Paper 204.
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