The impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19) on retinal microcirculation in human subjects.

Background: The aim of the study was to assess retinal microcirculation in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) through the use of optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT-A) and compare the results with those obtained in healthy controls. Methods: The study enrolled 39 patients who had fully recovered from COVID-19 and 40 healthy controls. OCT-A image acquisitions were obtained using AngioVue software (version 2017.1.0.151) and the RTVue XR Avanti imaging system (Optovue Inc., Fremont, CA, USA). Nonflow area in the superficial capillary plexus (SCP), foveal avascular zone (FAZ) area in the whole retinal vasculature, FAZ perimeter, acircularity index of FAZ, and foveal density were automatically obtained with the FAZ assessment tool. Vessel density (VD) at the SCP and deep capillary plexus were also measured. Results: Compared to the control group, the nonflow area and the FAZ area in the whole retina was greater in the COVID-19 group; however no statistically significant difference was observed (p > 0.05 respectively). As for vessel densities, all superficial parafoveal VD parameters were considerably higher in the COVID-19 group compared to the control group (p < 0.05 respectively). Despite the fact that the vessel densities in the remaining zones were lower in the COVID-19 group, those differences were not statistically significant (p > 0.05 respectively). Conclusion: VD at the parafoveal area of ​​the SCP was significantly higher among patients in the late post-recovery period of COVID-19 disease compared to healthy controls. These findings show the impact of COVID-19 on the retinal microvasculature and its possible role as a risk factor for the development of ocular diseases.

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