Saturday, 21 February 2015

Measles Can Rob a Child's Sight, Doctors Warn


Severe complications might damage cornea, retina or optic nerve

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Maureen Salomon

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Feb. 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- In the midst of the current resurgence of measles across the United States, many people may still believe it's a harmless, transient disease.

But experts warn that even before the telltale skin rash appears, the infection typically shows up in the eyes. In rare cases, measles can trigger long-term vision problems and even blindness.

Also, one or two of every 1,000 children who get measles will die from it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's not as simple as you get the measles and that's it," said Dr. Jonathan Song, an associate professor of ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.

Severe complications from measles can include brain swelling that -- along with irritation or clouding of the eye's cornea -- can rob children of their sight.

"Almost all people who get measles will get the red eyes called conjunctivitis," Song said. "Once they get red eyes ... they can develop inflammation of the cornea, which can break down the cornea and lead to scarring and even blindness."

The CDC reported 141 people from 17 states and Washington, D.C., were known to have measles as of Feb. 13, and most of them had not been immunized. The vast majority of those recently infected are part of a large, ongoing multistate outbreak linked to Disneyland in California.

Measles causes up to 60,000 cases of blindness worldwide each year, according to a survey published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Most of those blinded by the infection are in developing nations and suffer from a vitamin A deficiency.

But regardless of nutritional status, children can develop measles-related vision complications either because their mothers contracted the virus during pregnancy, or by acquiring measles during childhood, eye experts said.

"The most common eye complications don't cause vision loss and are temporary," said Dr. Jane Edmond, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.

"But the rare encephalitis [brain swelling] that can occur with measles in a child can be devastating and of course, the eyes are hooked up to the brain, so another way to affect vision is through this brain-based injury," said Edmond, who is also a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

source : Measles Can Rob a Child's Sight, Doctors Warn

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