TIME Zika

Zika Virus May Be Linked to Eye Abnormalities in Babies: Study

Dr. Vanessa Van Der Linden, the neuro-pediatrician who first recognized and alerted authorities over the microcephaly crisis in Brazil, measures the head of a 2-month-old baby with microcephaly on Jan. 27, 2016 in Recife, Brazil.
Mario Tama-Getty Images Dr. Vanessa Van Der Linden, the neuro-pediatrician who first recognized and alerted authorities over the microcephaly crisis in Brazil, measures the head of a 2-month-old baby with microcephaly on Jan. 27, 2016 in Recife, Brazil.

The defects can lead to blindness

The Zika virus may be linked to eye abnormalities in infants, a new study has found.

Researchers from Brazil say the mosquito-borne disease may put newborns at risk of ocular defects that can cause progressive vision loss, leading to blindness, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology. The Zika virus has already been linked to a rare birth defect called microcephaly, which causes babies to have small heads and incomplete brain development.

The researchers say their study of 29 infants with microcephaly in Brazil cannot yet definitively link the eye abnormalities to the Zika virus until other diseases are ruled out as causes. Ten of the newborns had ocular abnormalities that ranged from minor to “vision-threatening” defects, including mottled pigments and chorioretinal atrophy, a condition in which parts of the eye are damaged and wither away, according to the study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also looking into whether the Zika virus is linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause temporary paralysis.

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