COVID-19 Vaccine Does Not Change Retinal Structures, Vascular Density

Ophthalmology office.
Ophthalmology office. Masked patient and doctor – Covid 19. Scan of the retina, an examination that allows you to precisely visualize the different parts of the eye. This imaging makes it possible to observe the retina in order to detect, for example, a retinal uplift with edema or a diabetic retinopathy. It is used to monitor wet AMD about every two months and complements the fundus to see if an injection of treatment is needed. OCT is also used to examine the optic nerve, and therefore screen for or monitor glaucoma. (Photo by: Pascal Bachelet/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Patients are unlikely to experience significant ocular symptoms after receiving the Coronovac vaccine, researchers report.

Participants experienced no significant change in posterior segment retinal structures and vascular density parameters after administration of the CoronaVac (Sinovac) vaccine for COVID-19, according to a report published in Photodiagnosis and Photodynamic Therapy.   

Researchers assessed 40 eyes of 40 participants, (mean age 33.05±8.61 years, 50% women) and performed complete eye examinations at baseline and follow up less than 1 week after initial assessment. They used optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT-A) to obtain mean measurements of the following, before and after administration of the vaccine, respectively: foveal avascular zone (0.27±0.02 mm2, 0.28±0.02 mm2), choriocapillaris blood flow (2.10±0.02 mm2, 2.11±0.02 mm2), retinal foveal thickness (246.95±4.79 µm, 246.16±4.57 µm), and optic disc whole images (56.21±0.44 %, 56.03±0.41 %). 

A small group of participants did report minor ocular symptoms with 2 having redness, 2 experiencing itching, and 2 reporting burning and stinging in the eye (all 5%). 

“No significant difference was found between vascular density values and retinal thickness values before and after vaccination,” according to the investigators. “This demonstrates that CoronaVac vaccine has no side effects on retinal and optic disc vascular flow and retinal thickness.”

Study limitations include a small sample size and the analysis of only 1 type of vaccine. Although a few case reports exist, this is the first study that evaluates the effect the CoronaVac vaccine may have on retinal and optic disc vascular values.


Birumut G, Bozdogan YC, Yavuz S, Durmaz D, Erol MK. The assessment of retina and optic disc vascular structures in people who received Coronavac vaccine. Photodiagnosis Photodyn Ther. Published online January 31, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.pdpdt.2022.102742