Measles and the eye

Recently the measles has been making the news a lot. It seems that hardly a day goes by without another report alerting us to an outbreak somewhere in Canada and it seems that Alberta has more than its fair share. While I was in school we touched only briefly on the measles since it was considered essentially eliminated in Canada. It can and does affect the eyes and since this resurgence I have refreshed myself on the dangers of the measles and what can happen to your vision.

All that said, I have seen measles in they eye before and it really took me by surprise.

While I worked in Malawi, Africa, a boy came in with a nasty looking pink eye and he was covered in spots. The doctor we were working with looked at us and said "What does this boy have." My colleague and I were stumped. "Measles of course!" he proclaimed as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. We had never seen measles before and were barely taught about it. It was considered an almost dead disease. As we have seen, that is not exactly the case.

A very, very close look at the measles virus.

The boy we treated in Africa recovered wonderfully and his eye cleared up. He was lucky. There are a lot of potential complications of measles. The most common is pink eye. Your eye could be red, gooey, and sore. It is also possible though to have retinal problems. The only symptom you might notice from those retinal issues would be that you were no longer seeing well or no longer seeing at all! If you have been diagnosed with measles or think you may have gotten the measles make sure you include an eye health check as you heal. This type of health exam is fully covered by Alberta Health Care and may just save your vision.

I would strongly encourage anyone who has not gotten the measles vaccine to consider having it done. I know some people may have a lot of questions or fears about vaccines and I'm happy to discuss any of those concerns with you either in office or through social media. The measles vaccine, while not 100% effective, will drastically reduce your risk of contracting the measles and suffering the potentially blinding eye complications.

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