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Medical News & Perspectives
May 7, 2003

Experts Weigh Prevention, Therapy for Ocular Vaccinia in Smallpox Vaccinees

JAMA. 2003;289(17):2198-2199. doi:10.1001/jama.289.17.2198

Washington—Two thousand years ago, a blind Saul regained vision when "scales fell from his eyes," according to the Book of Acts.

Today, a similar phenomenon—minus the divine intervention—has affected a handful of civilian and military smallpox vaccinees.

The condition, ocular vaccinia, occurs when a vaccinee "autoinoculates," inadvertently transferring virus from the vaccination site to his or her eye. Such activities as everyday eye rubbing, scratching, and contact lens handling makes ocular vaccinia a potentially common adverse event of smallpox vaccination.