By David Gutierrez
A 16-year-old girl lost nearly all of her vision within 10 days of receiving the second course of her vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV), reports a case study in the Journal of Child Neurology.
The HPV vaccine is designed to prevent infection by the strains of the virus that are responsible for the majority of cervical cancer and genital warts cases.
The study recounts the case of a previously healthy teenage girl who developed a headache on the left side of her head and began to lose vision in her right eye eight days after receiving her second HPV vaccine shot. Over the course of the following 48 hours, the pain spread across her head and she began to lose sight in her left eye as well.
At this point, the girl went to the emergency room, where doctors found her vital signs to be normal with no indication of infection or systemic illness. While under supervision, her vision continued to deteriorate until she was able to identify light and movement only from the left eye, and then only inconsistently. She reported no symptoms prior to the onset of headache and vision loss and had not experienced any recent disease or trauma.
Further examination revealed demyelination in her brain and along her optic nerves. In demyelination, characteristic of multiple sclerosis and similar diseases, the protective myelin sheath around nerve cells degrades, leading to interrupted nerve signaling.
Eighteen months after her initial visit, the teenager had recovered from her weakness but her vision had not improved.