Swine Flu H1N1 and Eye Complications

Dr. Kisling Fort Collins Eye Doctor, Fort Collins Optometrist, Pinkeye, Swine Flu 2 Comments

As the H1N1 Swine Flu continues to spread pinkeye (conjunctivitis) is still uncommon and very mild. Rare cases have been showing up involving neurological complications that sometimes do manifest other eye problems.  Encephalopathy is a neurological syndrome that disrupts large areas of the brain. This has been seen in a limited number of patients and can result in eyes turning up or to the side, usually accompanied by a seizure. Other problems that may be seen in the future with encephalopathy are photophobia (light sensitivity) and nystagmus  (eyes rapidly moving in a tremor like manner). By this point the patient would normally be hospitalized from the other problems so it is highly unlikely to be seen in a home setting.

An unknown at this point is if the  influenza can be transmitted from the tears in the eye. The normal routes of transmission are through airborne droplets created by coughing or sneezing or touching a surface that has been contaminated. While the HIV virus is present in tears there are no known cases of transmission by this route. It is unknown if this will be the same with the new Flu virus.  Also, airborne droplets could contact the eye, drain into the sinuses and possibly result in infection. Until more is known it is probably best to err on the side of caution and wear some form of protective eyewear if you are around someone with flu symptoms.

Comments 2

  1. Lauren Nichols

    Please in the future be sure to proof read your articles. It is difficult to follow when proper punctuation is not in place. Thank you.

  2. Post

    Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for your suggestion. Punctuation has never been my strong point. If you see them in the future please let me know where they are.

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