Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis is a serious eye infection caused by the cytomegalovirus, a herpes-type virus that is present in most adults. While most healthy adults do not experience symptoms or problems from the infection, those with weakened immune systems, such as individuals with AIDS, are at a higher risk of the infection being activated and spreading throughout the body, including the retina.
The retina is the light-sensitive layer of nerves at the back of the eye and is responsible for sending visual signals to the brain. When the virus infects the retina, it causes inflammation and swelling, leading to symptoms such as blurriness, flashes or floaters, sudden loss of peripheral vision, or blind spots in central vision. If left untreated, the virus can cause retinal detachment and ultimately destroy the retina and damage the optic nerve, leading to long-term vision loss.
Treatment for CMV retinitis includes antiviral medications such as ganciclovir, foscarnet, or cidofovir, which can be administered orally, through injection into a vein, directly into the eye, or through a time-release implant that releases the medication at intervals. In addition, laser surgery may be used to repair damaged areas of the retina, such as in cases of retinal detachment.
Boosting the immune system is also an essential part of preventing and managing CMV retinitis. Individuals with HIV or AIDS may be placed on a regimen of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) to enhance the body’s immune response and combat the virus. This has been found to be highly effective in reducing the incidence of CMV retinitis in AIDS patients and minimizing the damage for those affected.
It’s important to note that while these treatments can prevent further damage to the retina, any vision loss cannot be restored. Additionally, even if the virus is temporarily stopped, further progression may occur in the future. This is why it is crucial to see a retinal specialist regularly if you have had the condition or are at risk.
If you are experiencing symptoms of CMV retinitis, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further damage to the retina and preserve vision. Remember to keep your immune system strong and healthy, and to consult with your doctor regularly if you are at risk of CMV retinitis.