Can Dengue Fever Affect your Eyes?

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral illness that spreads rapidly in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Dr. Mukesh Mahajan Created on 28th Dec, 20

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection. The virus that causes dengue is called dengue virus (DENV). There are 4 DENV serotypes (subspecies), meaning that it is possible to be infected 4 times. A general physician can provide treatment for dengue fevers.

Symptoms of dengue include high fever, headache, rash and muscle and joint pain. In severe cases, one can experience bleeding and shock, which can be life-threatening.

The most severe form of dengue infection is known as dengue hemorrhagic fever. It is characterized by low levels of platelets and multiple organ failure.


Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral illness that spreads rapidly in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.


Infection with one serotype or subspecies of dengue results in long-term immunity only to that specific serotype, and not to the others. So, the dengue virus can infect a person many times.


Dengue is often challenging to diagnose. The presumptive diagnosis occurs on general signs and symptoms. However, most doctors prefer waiting for laboratory confirmation.


How Dengue Fever affects your Eyes?

Even though the symptoms and effects of dengue fever are known to everyone, the impact on the eye in dengue fever is still not recognized.

There are essential differences in the way the dengue virus infects different retinal cells in dengue patients and how those cells respond to the infection.


Infection of the patient’s retinal cells shows precisely how the virus causes damage in the eye of a patient. It includes retinal swelling and inflammation.


Low platelet count and high fever are not the only characteristics of dengue. It can also cause congestion in the eyes and, in a few cases, blindness.


Eye specialists say it is crucial to diagnose eye infection in dengue patients early to minimize the damage. Eye infections are a known complication in dengue patients and in some case, an initial symptom.


In rare cases, people lose their vision due to the infection. The eyes become swollen and start to bleed internally. Saving the dengue patients sight in such cases can be very challenging.


However, congestion in the eyes occurs in most dengue patients, and it rarely leads to blurry vision.


Enough data is not available in India on the distribution and frequency of eye disease in dengue patients. However, researchers say that it could range anywhere around 5 to 6 per cent. For patients who are hospitalized with dengue, it ranges between 16 and 40.3 per cent, which is very high.


The onset of eye-related symptoms can range from 2 days when the person gets dengue to even 5 months. However, most people suffer damage to the eyes when their blood platelet count drops by a large number.


There is no known effective treatment for the damaged retina. Active monitoring and steroid therapy are the primary treatment used. In a few cases, the doctors have also used immunosuppressive treatment to help the patients in quick recovery.


The exact way dengue viral infection spreads to the eye is poorly understood. Researchers suspect multiple causes, including viral factors, immune mediation, capillary leakage, stress, and bleeding.


Eye infections in dengue patients are observed when their platelet count is at its lowest and when the count begins to rise. Though symptoms are not specific, blurring of vision is the most general complaint. However, the range at which blurring effects dengue patients is different in every case.


Ophthalmological assessment and funduscopy are beneficial addition to advanced checks. But, there are no clear guidelines on the management of eye infections in dengue.


Suggestions range from conservative care to aggressive steroid therapy. It also includes immune modulation and even ophthalmological intervention. Eye infected dengue patients can make a partial or complete recovery within some time.


We require guided studies and screening to understand better the true incidence of eye involvement in dengue fever.