The West African Ebola epidemic is almost over, after leaving 10,000 people dead between 2013 and 2015. But doctors have now discovered the virus can live on for months inside the eyeballs of those who survive it.
Dr. Ian Crozier, an American, contracted Ebola while treating patients in Sierra Leone in September 2014. He was flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on September 9th, and with the help of experimental drugs and round the clock care for 40 straight days, he managed to survive Ebola.
Or so he thought.
In December 2014, two months after beating the virus, he was back at Emory with intense pain in his left eye. Ophthalmologist Dr. Steven Yeh pierced Dr. Crozier’s eye with a hair-thin needle to take a fluid sample.
When they examined the fluid, they discovered that Dr. Crozier’s eyeballs were swarming with the Ebola virus. His tears and outer eye were free of the virus, so he wasn’t contagious, the virus was completely confined to the inside of his eyes.
Dr. Crozier was re-hospitalized as he started to go blind.
The virus even changed his swollen eyes from blue to green, then started to deflate them as the pressure dropped.
Finally, after trying everything else, his doctors got permission from the FDA to try an experimental antiviral drug. It took months, but Dr. Crozier’s vision eventually returned.
He and the doctors at Emory now hope his experience can help the tens of thousands of Ebola survivors in West Africa through their recovery as well.
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