Clin Hemorheol Microcirc. 2022 Jul 28. doi: 10.3233/CH-221554. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE: To quantify the hemodynamic and thrombotic effect of COVID-19 on the eye microcirculation of patients with thromboprophylaxis, shortly after hospital discharge.
METHODS: This case-control study included 17 COVID-19 survivors (named “COVID-19 Group”) and 17 healthy volunteers (named “Control Group”). Axial blood velocity (Vax) and percentage of occluded vessels (POV) were quantified by Conjunctival Video Capillaroscopy (CVC). Microvessels were identified and classified as “capillaries” (CAP), “postcapillary venules of size 1” (PC1), and “postcapillary venules of size 2” (PC2).
RESULTS: The COVID-19 Group did not differ significantly in basic demographics from the Control Group. In the COVID-19 Group, there was a statistically significant (p < 0.001) reduction of Vax (39%, 49% and 47%, for CAP, PC1, and PC2, respectively) in comparison to the Control Group and a sizeable (p < 0.001) increase of POV (600%) in comparison to the Control Group.
CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 not only reduces significantly axial blood velocity in the capillaries and postcapillary venules of the eye but has also a devastating effect on microthrombosis (POV) despite thromboprophylaxis treatment. This gives a possible explanation for long COVID and a hint about the existence of a possibly unknown coagulation factor.