Ophthalmic manifestations and vision impairment in Lassa fever survivors

Alexa L. Li, Donald Grant, Michael Gbakie, Lansana Kanneh, Ibrahim Mustafa, Nell Bond, Emily Engel, John Schieffelin, Matthew J. Vandy, Steven Yeh, Jessica G. Shantha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to describe the ocular findings, structural ocular complications, and vision impairment in a cohort of Lassa fever survivors in Kenema, Sierra Leone. A retrospective, uncontrolled, cross-sectional study of 31 Lassa fever survivors (62 eyes) who underwent an ophthalmic evaluation in January 2018 at the Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone was performed. Data collection included demographic information, ocular/systemic symptoms, visual acuity (VA), and ophthalmic examination findings. Main outcome measures included anterior and posterior segment ophthalmic manifestations and level of VA impairment in Lassa fever survivors. Anterior segment findings included cataract (18%) and pterygium (2%), while posterior segment manifestations consisted of glaucoma (6%), preretinal hemorrhage (2%), and lattice degeneration (2%). Findings suggestive of prior sequelae of uveitis included chorioretinal scarring (5%), retinal fibrosis (3%), and vitreous opacity (2%). Visual acuity was normal/mildly impaired in 53 eyes (85%), moderately impaired in 6 eyes (10%), and 3 eyes (5%) were considered blind by the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. Median VA was worse in Lassa fever survivors with ophthalmic disease findings (p<0.0001) for both anterior segment (p<0.0001) and posterior segment disease (p<0.013). Untreated cataract was a significant cause of visual acuity impairment (p<0.0001). Lassa fever survivors in this cohort were found to have cataract and posterior segment findings that potentially represent sequelae of uveitis associated with visual impairment. Future studies are warranted to improve our understanding of the spectrum of ocular disease in this emerging infectious disease of public health consequence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0243766
JournalPloS one
Issue number12 December
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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