Hepatitis is a condition that affects the liver, but can also cause eye problems. In light of World Hepatitis Day on July 28, local eye doctor EyeSite of The Villages shares how hepatitis affects vision, and what you can do about it.

Complications Caused by Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) mainly infects liver cells, and can be transmitted through sexual contact, blood transfusions and from a mother to child during birth. HBV patients experience fatigue, fever, vomiting and jaundice, characterized by yellowing of the eyes. HBV causes the following eye complications:

  • Retinal Vasculitis — Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels caused by leftover debris left over from a bacterial or viral infection, including Hepatitis B. Vasculitis in the eye affects the retina and reduces reduces blood flow and oxygen to the retinal tissues, causing what is known as “cotton wool spots”.

  • Third Nerve Palsy — HBV infection can temporarily paralyze the oculomotor nerve, the third cranial nerve that controls eye movement and pupil dilation. If you think you have the symptoms—eyes not dilating or moving, eye pain, headache—have an eye exam performed by an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

  • Optic Neuritis and Uveitis — Optic neuritis is an acute inflammation of the optic nerve, while uveitis is the inflammation of the front eye tissue. Both conditions seem to be caused by antibodies and debris brought about by HBV infection.

Why You Should See an Optometrist

In addition to seeing a hepatologist (a doctor who specializes in liver diseases), seeing an optometrist can help you with the aforementioned eye conditions, as well as associated hepatitis treatments that may affect your vision.

For instance, Interferon is a chemical mediator that helps route white blood cells to damaged tissue. Its known side effects include headache, hair loss and muscle pain. It can also cause eye complications, particularly in the retinal area. Hepatitis patients who are undergoing treatment using Interferon are advised to regularly see an eye doctor, as the symptoms usually manifest two weeks to six months after treatment begins.

EyeSite of The Villages is your leading provider of eyeglasses and other eye care services. Give us a call at (352) 504-4560 or fill out our contact form. We serve customers in Fruitland Park, FL, and surrounding areas.