Nerve damage in the cornea may be a sign of ‘prolonged COVID19’, study hints

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A new study suggests that nerve damage and a buildup of immune cells in the cornea may be a sign of “prolonged COVID,” a long-term syndrome that emerges in some people after a COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 people experience a wide range of long-lasting symptoms, and a large proportion reports neurological problems, including headaches, body numbness, loss of smell, and “brain fog” or discomfort.

There is a problem with thinking and concentrating. Senior author Dr Riyaz Malik, professor of medicine and consultant physician at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar in Doha, said this constellation of symptoms indicates that long-term COVID may arise partly from damage to nerve cells in the body.

Relay sensory information about. In particular, early evidence suggests that long COVID may damage short nerve fibres – thin wires that are shunted from specific nerve cells in the body and send the central nervous system to pain, temperature and itching, among other sensations.

Short-fibre nerve cells also help control involuntary bodily functions, such as heart rate and bowel movements; Therefore, damage to these cells can cause a wide range of symptoms. Malik and his colleagues studied short-fibre nerve loss in people with diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis; They noticed that people with chronic COVID-19 share similar symptoms with these patients, so they decided to investigate a possible link.

Using a corneal confocal microscopy technique (CCM), the team took snapshots of nerve cells in the cornea, the transparent layer of the eye covering the pupil and iris.

The team used a non-invasive procedure to count the total number of short-fibre nerve cells in the cornea while also assessing the length and degree of branching of those fibres. In their work with other conditions, the team has found that when you find damage in the short-fibre nerves of the cornea, it often indicates that there is similar damage elsewhere in the body. “It’s like a pretty good barometer, almost, of nerve damage elsewhere,” Malik explained.

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