HYDERABAD: Around 20 per cent of patients diagnosed with mucormycosis are losing their vision in one eye before going to see a doctor. Therefore patients who have recovered from moderate to severe Covid-19 are advised to visit an ENT specialist between one and two weeks after recovery to treat potential black fungus infections at the early stage, said superintendent of Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital Dr V. Rajalingam.
Most mucormycosis cases were found between 14 and 18 days post-recovery from Covid, he said, adding that a check-up by an ENT doctor would help in detecting this infection early. If anyone is experiencing any symptom including facial pain, one side nasal congestion or discharge that is red or black, pain in their teeth or an eye, swelling of the eye or even drooping of the upper eyelid, or if they experience blurriness of vision, or loss of vision, they must immediately consult an ENT surgeon, he said.
The SD Eye Hospital, is currently serving as the post-operative care unit for mucormycosis patients, who underwent surgeries at the Government ENT Hospital at Koti. Once they are here, it takes about a week for recovery, Dr Rajalingam said.
Currently, in these two hospitals and the Gandhi Hospital – where Covid positive patients are also affected by mucormycosis – there are around 600 patients receiving treatment for the fungal infection.
About 20 per cent of all black fungus patients are losing vision in one eye, and so far, around 35 surgeries for removing the fungus-hit eyes have been performed in the government hospitals in the city.
Dr Modini, a professor from SD Eye Hospital who is heading the ophthalmology team at the ENT Hospital, said removal of the eye creates a lot of psychological trauma for the patient. “It is not easy for the surgeons either. Each time such a surgery is performed, it is like we lose a piece of ourselves,” she said.
She explained that not everyone who was infected with the black fungus, had to lose an eye. “It is only when the infection begins spreading to the brain from the eye – with the eye itself getting infected because it is close to the sinuses in the face where the infection first takes hold – that serious loss of vision may occur, and it is only when the infected eye becomes a threat to the brain, is it required to be removed,” she explained.
Dr Rajalingam said around half the patients who lost their vision might not get it back, but it had also been seen that the other half was slowly regaining their sight.
Meanwhile, Dr T. Shankar, the ENT Hospital superintendent said that so far surgeries, draining of the black fungus from the sinuses, or involving eyes, had been performed at the hospital in the last 10 days. Despite the challenges faced as most patients have compromised lung function, the care taken by the multidisciplinary surgical teams is ensuring best possible care to every patient.