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LHON and COVID-19 Expert Updates Dr. Valerio Carelli, Dr. Rustum Karanjia, Dr. Nancy Newman, Dr. Alfredo Sadun and Dr. Patrick Yu-Wai-Man provided the following responses to these questions:
Is the LHON community at any greater risk from COVID-19? There is no known increase in risk for people who have an LHON mutation with COVID-19. This is a novel virus and ALL people are at risk. It can cause severe breathing problems which can result in death. Avoiding contacts who are sick, and following the guidance of your public health officials, are the key to limiting the spread of COVID-19. The emphasis must be placed on not getting COVID-19 for your general health, regardless of your LHON genetic status.
Are individuals carrying a LHON mutation but currently asymptomatic at any greater risk of onset of vision loss if they should become affected by COVID-19? There is no specific data at this time to suggest that COVID-19 affects the optic nerve.
Are ophthalmologists and neuro-ophthalmologists seeing LHON patients? Professional medical organizations are strongly recommending that all ophthalmologists provide only urgent or emergent care. Planned appointments may be cancelled/rescheduled. While there is an effort to shift to video platforms for telehealth throughout the medical community, this may take some time, so please check with your care provider.
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