CMV Retinitis

Cytomegalovirus retinitis, or CMV retinitis, is an eye disease that causes inflammation of the retina. The cytomegalovirus is related to the herpes virus and is often associated with late stage Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). As many as 25 percent of AIDS patients will develop CMV retinitis.

What is CMV retinitis?

CMV retinitis is a sight-threatening disease. Even with treatment, it can eventually cause blindness. When the cytomegalovirus enters the retina, it starts to compromise vision, causing floaters and specks. The disease may start in one eye and spread quickly to the other eye. Sudden vision loss and blindness can occur within just a few months if CMV retinitis is left untreated.

Symptoms of CMV retinitis

Symptoms of CMV retinitis include: 

  • Floaters and specks in vision 
  • Loss of peripheral vision 
  • Blind spots 
  • Blurry vision 
  • Light flashes 
  • Sudden loss of vision

Many people with CMV retinitis have no symptoms and no pain, which is why it is important to see a doctor if any of the above symptoms occur.

Causes of CMV retinitis

CMV retinitis is caused by the herpes-like cytomegalovirus. Most people have antibodies to CMV in their blood system, but people with suppressed immune systems are vulnerable to the virus. CMV infections are common in people: 

  • Undergoing chemotherapy 
  • Receiving a bone marrow transplant 
  • Receiving an organ transplant 
  • With AIDS

Treatment of CMV retinitis

CMV retinitis can be diagnosed with a standard eye exam. The goal of CMV treatment is to slow the progression of the virus to prevent loss of vision. Anti-viral drugs are used to control the virus. These medications can be administered orally, intravenously, or via an implant in the eye. CMV therapy is often long term.

If you experience CMV symptoms, visit your eye doctor to prevent possible vision loss.


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