Lingering Ebola Turns Survivor's Blue Eye Green

And then Dr. Ian Crozier's iris turned blue again
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2015 7:30 AM CDT
Lingering Ebola Turns Survivor's Blue Eye Green
This undated colorized transmission electron micrograph image made available by the CDC shows an Ebola virus virion.   (Frederick Murphy/CDC via AP)

Ebola survivor Dr. Ian Crozier was released from Atlanta's Emory University Hospital in October when his blood showed no sign of the virus. His Ebola troubles weren't over, though. Two months later, he developed inflammation, searing pain, and high blood pressure in his left eye; he could soon see only the movement of a doctor's fingers. One day, his blue iris suddenly turned green. When a doctor drained fluid from the eye, it tested positive for Ebola, though Crozier's tears and surrounding tissue were clear of it, meaning those who came in casual contact with him weren't in danger, the AP reports. How surprised were doctors? Shocked. The one who drew the fluid hadn't even donned a protective mask when he did so. With treatment from an unnamed experimental antiviral drug and a steroid injection, Crozier began to regain sight in his eye.

Even more remarkable, however, is that his iris changed back to blue—a reversal so rare that a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School tells the New York Times he's never seen such a thing happen in his 40-year career. Doctors say the case is basically a mystery. Though Ebola can remain in semen for months after it leaves a person's blood, doctors weren't aware it could lurk in other body fluids, though other Ebola survivors have reported eye problems. One doctor at a clinic in Liberia says about 40% of survivors there have reported eye pain, inflammation, blurred vision, and blind spots, the New York Times reports. Experts say the virus may linger in the eye because, like testicles, it is "immune-privileged," meaning it's mostly blocked off from the immune system as a way to ward against vision-damaging inflammation, explains the Times. This can also allow viruses to replicate unhindered. Read more on the fascinating color-change mystery at the Times. (More Ebola stories.)

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