Multimodal Imaging and Spatial Analysis of Ebola Retinal Lesions in 14 Survivors of Ebola Virus Disease

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Abstract

Importance

Differentiation between Ebola retinal lesions and other retinal pathologies in West Africa is important, and the pathogenesis of Ebola retinal disease remains poorly understood.

Objective

To describe the appearance of Ebola virus disease (EVD) retinal lesions using multimodal imaging to enable inferences on potential pathogenesis.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This prospective case series study was carried out at 34 Military Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Ophthalmological images were analyzed from 14 consecutively identified survivors of EVD of Sierra Leonean origin who had identified Ebola retinal lesions.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Multimodal imaging findings including ultra-widefield scanning laser ophthalmoscopy, fundus autofluorescence, swept-source optical coherence tomography (OCT), Humphrey visual field analysis, and spatial analysis.

Results

The 14 study participants had a mean (SD) age of 37.1 (8.8) years; 6 (43%) were women. A total of 141 Ebola retinal lesions were observed in 22 of 27 eyes (81%) of these 14 survivors on ultra-widefield imaging. Of these, 41 lesions (29.1%) were accessible to OCT imaging. Retinal lesions were predominantly nonpigmented with a pale-gray appearance. Peripapillary lesions exhibited variable curvatures in keeping with the retinal nerve fiber layer projections. All lesions respected the horizontal raphe and spared the fovea. The OCT imaging demonstrated a V-shaped hyperreflectivity of the outer nuclear layer overlying discontinuities of the ellipsoid zone and interdigitation zone in the smaller lesions. Larger lesions caused a collapse of the retinal layers and loss of retinal thickness. Lesion shapes were variable, but sharp angulations were characteristic. Perilesional areas of dark without pressure (thinned ellipsoid zone hyporeflectivity) accompanied 125 of the 141 lesions (88.7%) to varying extents.

Conclusions and Relevance

We demonstrate OCT evidence of localized pathological changes at the level of the photoreceptors in small lesions among survivors of EVD with retinal lesions. The relevance of associated areas of dark without pressure remains undetermined.

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