Retinal capillary involvement in early post-COVID-19 patients: a healthy controlled study

Maria Cristina Savastano, Gloria Gambini, Emanuele Crincoli*, Alfonso Savastano, Carola Culiersi, Benedetto Falsini, Angelo Maria Minnella, Francesco Landi, Francesco Cosimo Pagano, Stanislao Rizzo

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background Systemic vascular involvement in COVID-19 has been identified in several patients: not only endothelial derangement and increased permeability are reported to be early hallmarks of organ damage in patients with COVID-19 but are also the most important cause of worsening of clinical conditions in severe cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. There are several reasons to hypothesize that the eye, and the retina in particular, could be a target of organ damage in SARS-CoV-2 infection. Methods This cohort observational study analyzes OCT angiography and structural OCT of 70 post-COVID-19 patients evaluated at 1-month hospital discharge and 22 healthy control subjects. Primary outcomes were macular vessel density (VD) and vessel perfusion (VP); structural OCT features were evaluated as secondary outcomes. In addition, patients and healthy volunteers were evaluated for best corrected visual acuity, slit lamp photograph, and fundus photo image. Results VD and VP in 3 x 3 and 6 x 6 mm scans for SCP and DCP showed no significant differences between the groups. Similarly, CMT and GCL did not reveal significant differences between post-COVID-19 and healthy patients. Nine patients (12.9%) featured retinal cotton wool spots and 10 patients had vitreous fibrillary degeneration. The prevalence of epiretinal membrane and macular hole was similar in the two groups. One case of extra papillary focal retinal hemorrhage was reported in the post-COVID-19 group. Conclusions Macula and perimacular vessel density and perfusion resulted unaltered in mild post-COVID-19 patients at 1-month hospital discharge, suggesting no or minimal retinal vascular involvement by SARS-CoV-2.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)N/A-N/A
JournalGraefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Macula
  • OCT angiography
  • Retinal vascular layers
  • SARS-CoV-2


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