Neuro-Ophthalmological Complications of the COVID-19 Vaccines: A Systematic Review

J Neuroophthalmol. 2022 Jun 1;42(2):154-162. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000001537. Epub 2022 Mar 25.


Background: A worldwide mass vaccination campaign against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is currently underway. Although the safety data of the clinical trials did not report specific concerns regarding neuro-ophthalmological adverse events, they involved a limited number of individuals and were conducted over a relatively short time. The aim of the current review is to summarize the available postmarketing data regarding the occurrence of neuro-ophthalmological and other ocular complications of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Evidence acquisition: Electronic searches for published literature were conducted using Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, Google Scholar, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and The search strategy incorporated controlled vocabulary and free-text synonyms for the concepts of COVID, vaccines, and visual and neuro-ophthalmologic diseases and symptoms.

Results: A total of 14 case reports and 2 case series have been selected for inclusion in the final report, reporting 76 cases of post-COVID-vaccination adverse events. The most common adverse event was optic neuritis (n = 61), followed by uveitis (n = 3), herpes zoster ophthalmicus (n = 2), acute macular neuroretinopathy (n = 2), optic disc edema as an atypical presentation of Guillain-Barré syndrome (n = 1), (arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy; n = 1), abducens nerve palsy (n = 1), oculomotor nerve palsy (n = 1), Tolosa-Hunt syndrome (n = 1), central serous retinopathy (n = 1), acute zonal occult outer retinopathy (n = 1), and bilateral choroiditis (n = 1). Most cases were treated with high-dose steroids and had a favorable clinical outcome.

Conclusion: Since the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the past year, several post-COVID-vaccination neuro-ophthalmological complications have been described. However, considering the number of individuals that have been exposed to the vaccines, the risk seems very low, and the clinical outcome in most cases is favorable. Therefore, on a population level, the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the risk of neuro-ophthalmological complications.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines* / adverse effects
  • COVID-19*
  • Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics


  • COVID-19 Vaccines