Israeli hospital finds rise in eye disease caused by stress during COVID pandemic

Doctors at Assuta Hospital in Ashdod see 200% rise in cases of CSR; say it is likely caused by stress brought on by pandemic and closures, and not a COVID side effect

Illustrative image of an eye test (Visivasnc; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of an eye test (Visivasnc; iStock by Getty Images)

An Israeli hospital study has found a sharp increase in cases of an eye disease, believed to be exacerbated by stress, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors said Tuesday.

A study of over 100 patients at the Assuta Hospital in Ashdod found a 200% rise in cases of central serous retinopathy, or CSR, amid the pandemic. The disorder, which causes visual impairment, usually in one eye.

Sometimes also known as central serous chorioretinopathy (CSC) it is caused when fluid builds up under the retina. This can distort vision. Most cases resolve themselves.

Hospital officials told Channel 12 news that they associate the rise in cases amid the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns with the stress it caused, rather than seeing it as a side effect of COVID itself.

They noted correlations between waves of COVID and rises in CSR and subsequent declines.

“This is a groundbreaking study that reinforces the accepted theory that there is a connection between mental stress and a decline in sight,” said Prof. Josef Pikkel, one of the authors of the study. “The study showed that during the coronavirus and the closures, which were filled with tension, there was a sharp increase in cases.”

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