The list of signs that may be experienced by the COVID sufferers has just become slightly longer and obscure: Researchers have reported an instance that is “face blindness” that is a result of the syndrome.
The condition, medically referred to as prosopagnosia causes an extremely specific impairment: difficult to distinguish the appearance of a person from that of another. Even the familiar face of a friend could be the face of a stranger.
Typically, the condition of face blindness stems due to brain damage face-processing system, which occurs after an injury to the head or stroke, for instance the case of Marie-Luise Keseler who is a scientist at Dartmouth College. Dartmouth College Social Perception Lab located in Hanover, N.H.
Together with her fellow colleague Brad Duchaine have discovered the first case of facial blindness that is linked to COVID that is long-haul.
In the Journal Cortex The authors describe the experience of Annie 28, a woman aged 28 who contracted COVID in the month of March 2020. Annie experienced a rough time, afflicted by an extremely high fever, breathlessness as well as coughing episodes that became so severe at times , she almost fainted due to low oxygen levels.
Within three weeks Annie eventually felt well enough return working (from her home). After a couple of weeks, Annie began to feel a sense of disorientation. She also noticed that “something was wrong” with her ability see faces.
The situation came to a head when in June of 2020, she gathered with her family members for meal for the very first time after she fell in a coma. When she arrived at the eatery, she walked straight across them since she wasn’t able to recognize them.
Annie told me the time her father spoke to her she listened to hear the familiar voice only to be confronted by an unknown face.
As Annie said: “It was as if my dad’s voice was projected from the face of a stranger.”
At the end of the day, Annie was evaluated by the Dartmouth team, who requested her take a series of routine tests to find the bottom of the matter.
It was found that Annie did well to “flawlessly” on a variety of tests, such as those that required her to study and recall pictures of landscapes and cars and also recordings of her voice. The only area she had trouble with was with face recognition.
A test, for instance gives people images of male faces, which they save to memory. They are then required to distinguish the learned faces from those of unknown faces. The test takers are correct around 80% of the times. Annie however was right 56 percent of the time.
All of it pointed at a specific weakness in the processing of facial memories, Kieseler said.
Faces weren’t the primary issue but. Annie also had trouble navigating previously-known places getting lost when shopping at the store and not knowing the exact location of her car, for instance. (She’s currently relying on upon the Google map pin feature to track where she’s parked her car.)
Navigation issues, Kieseler said, are frequently associated with facial blindnesslikely due to the fact that certain brain regions involved in handling faces as well as “scenes” are located close to each other. (Annie’s problems with navigation do not appear to be visual in nature research suggests. It appears to be related to having access to the “cognitive map” that helps users determine where another location is relative to the location they’re currently in.)
Dr. William Schaffner is an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., and is a spokesperson on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
The doctor said that the incident adds an additional neurological signs which are commonly seen in patients with COVID for a long timewhich range from loss of smell and taste as well as problems with memory and focus, and even chronic pain.
One of the biggest concerns is how a respiratory illness develops into a long-lasting neurological issue for certain people, especially young people who experienced moderate episodes of COVID.
Most researchers believe it’s linked to an abnormal stimulation by the immune system. In light of the reasons, Schaffner said, “there appears to be a persistent inflammation that is smoldering and lingers” which persists long beyond the time of the infection.
Concerning the condition of face blindness, there’s no way to determine how prevalent (or uncommon) it could be. It’s possible that it’s rare. Dartmouth research team conducted an study of 86 individuals who suffered from COVID32 of whom had recovered completely and 54 suffered from COVID for at 12 weeks or more.
The long COVID group showed signs of facial blindness, Kieseler stated. However, navigation issues were frequent about one-third of them said they frequently were lost while traveling while a majority said previously familiar streets were no longer so. Very few reported having these problems prior to COVID.
“This is a real possibility to disrupt your daily routine,” Kieseler said. “If you’re lost while driving to the store it’s a major issue.”
Another important question is how often do neurological issues improve or get resolved?
Eye blindness, Kieseler stated, is not a treatment at the moment. Instead people develop strategies to adjust to the condition. Annie For instance, she uses voices to determine individuals she recognizes.
According to Schaffner other neurological symptoms of long COVID like loss of smell and taste tend to improve or get better. He advised that patients suffering from persistent symptoms that persist for months or weeks following an COVID illness consult their primary doctor.
People who suffer from more severe symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, debilitating mental and memory problems could be able access the long COVID clinic, that is what a lot of large U.S. medical centers now have, Schaffner said.
Kieseler stated that those who suspect they may suffer from face blindness, or any other perception problems, resulting from COVID that is long are encouraged to reach out to the team of researchers via the website faceblind.org.