Neuro-visual deficits are common among patients with rehabilitation needs following COVID-19, which highlights the need for multi-professional rehabilitation assessment and intervention, according to a study published in Archives of Rehabilitation Research and Clinical Translation.

Researchers conducted an ambi-directional, population-based cohort study of 185 patients who had COVID-19 and experienced persisting rehabilitation needs 4 months after discharge from hospitalization. They conducted a telephone interview with participants, and invited those who reported vision-related symptoms (n=57) to undergo neuro-visual examination. Of those, 42 patients participated and were included in the analysis.

The investigators found that 31% of patients with post-COVID rehabilitation needs reported vision-related symptoms, including reading-related issues (73.8%), blurry vision (69.0%), and photophobia (66.7%). The investigators also noted that patients with reading-related issues had a higher level of eye strain (P <.001), and that 83.3% of patients with vision-related symptoms had neuro-visual deficits, including eye teaming (23.1%-66.7%) and eye movement (28.6%-30.8%) functions. Patients with vision-related symptoms reported coexisting symptoms, such as persisting mental fatigue and other cognitive impairments to a greater extent than patients without vision-related symptoms (P ≤.0001 to P =.049 for 19 symptoms).


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“Neuro-visual symptoms and signs should be considered when assessing rehabilitation needs after Covid-19,” according to the investigators. “The association between vision-related issues and coexisting symptoms with an impact on body function and activity/participation underlines the need for multi-professional rehabilitation assessment and intervention.”

Limitations of the study include a relatively small sample size, self-reporting of symptoms, higher levels of mental fatigue reported among patients invited for neuro-visual evaluation compared with those not invited, and failure to include ophthalmologic examinations or consider neuroimaging data. 

Reference

Johansson J, Levi R, Jakobsson M, Gunnarsson S, Samuelsson K. Multi-professional neurorehabilitation after Covid-19 infection should include assessment of visual function: visual function after Covid-19 infection . Arch Rehabil Res Clin Transl. Published online January 31, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.arrct.2022.100184