A 9-year-old boy from the UK almost went blind after he developed an eye infection as a rare side effect that experts have linked to coronavirus.

Zac Morey, from Bristol in Southwest England, was hospitalized during Christmas after his left eye swelled up and lost vision, in less than a week after contracting the virus,  Manchester Evening News reported.

After having intravenous antibiotics, Zac has recovered from the infection, but his family now warns others about the terrifying COVID complication that could have left their child blind.

 Zac, who had minor flu-like symptoms, and cold tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 16 and self-isolated at his home. Despite turning negative on Dec. 22, the boy complained about pain in his left eye. 

The boy's mother, Angela Morey, initially thought the sore eye was associated with spending too much screen time while the boy was in isolation. However, she got concerned when Zac's left eye started to swell up in alarming proportions in the following days.

"His eye looked like it was going to explode," Angela said describing the ordeal. "It was swollen beyond anything I’ve ever seen. There was no way he could open it without pulling the skin," she said.

After Zac's symptoms continued, he was referred to Bristol Eye Hospital, where the doctors diagnosed him with orbital cellulitis - a bacterial infection of the eye socket that some scientists have linked to COVID-19 infection, BBC News reported.

 "The doctors said it was an allergic reaction to the virus that affects children. They said if it goes too far into the eye then it can cause blindness," Angela who is still shaken by the experience said. Zac was discharged after undergoing an eye test that confirmed that his vision was restored.

The World Health Organization has listed red and irritated eyes as a rare side effect of coronavirus infection.

 According to an April 2021 study report by National Center for Biotechnology Information, orbital cellulitis is considered one of the possible manifestations of COVID-19. However, the study also claims that "it is indeterminate that COVID-19 is coincidental or a predisposing factor to this presentation." 

eye-g0f0fd79ac_640 representational image Photo: pixabay