HIV can affect any part of the eyes, from more superficial regions such as the eyelids to deep tissues such as the retina, vitreous and nerves, causing diseases such as retinitis, retinal detachment, Kaposi’s sarcoma, in addition to several types of eye infections.
The chances of having vision affected by the infection are greater when the disease is in more advanced stages, due to the immune changes caused by the disease, as well as by opportunistic infections that take advantage of the drop in immunity to settle.
After infection by the HIV virus, it is possible to remain without any symptoms for many years, until the low immunity state facilitates the existence of infections and diseases in several organs, including the eyes, so it is very important to avoid this complication with preventing disease and testing for early detection. Know the main symptoms of AIDS and how to know if you have the disease .
The main eye diseases caused by HIV are:
1. Lesions in blood vessels
Microangiopathies are lesions in the small ocular vessels that cause blood flow occlusions or bleeding, which can alter the visual capacity of the affected person.
Generally, treatment is done with antiretroviral therapy, such as Zidovudine, Didanosine or Lamivudine, for example, used under the guidance of an dialectologist. Understand how AIDS treatment is done .
2. CMV retinitis
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is quite common in people with HIV, being able to cause retinitis with lesions in the small blood vessels, which affect important eye structures and can impair vision. This infection usually occurs in AIDS cases with a significant drop in the levels of the defense molecule CD4, which can be below 50 / mcL.
The treatment for this infection is made with the use of antiviral agents, such as Ganciclovir, Foscarnete, Aciclovir or Valganciclovir, for example, which are indicated by the infectologist. Antiretroviral therapy is also important to prevent worsening immunity and ease of infections.
3. Varicella-zoster virus infection
Eye infection by the varicella-zoster virus usually causes very serious infections, with levels of CD4 defense molecules below 24 / mcL. This infection is called progressive retinal necrosis syndrome and is characterized by the formation of lesions on the retina, which can enlarge and compromise the entire retina, leading to its detachment and loss of vision.
Treatment is carried out with the continuation of antiretroviral therapy, however, it is not always possible to improve the condition and visual recovery.
4. Ocular toxoplasmosis
People with weakened immunity to the HIV virus are more likely to acquire ocular toxoplasmosis, which is mainly transmitted by the consumption of contaminated water and food. This infection mainly affects the vitreous and the retina and causes symptoms such as decreased vision, sensitivity to light, or eye pain.
Treatment is done using drugs with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. In some cases, the ophthalmologist may perform surgeries such as photocoagulation, cryotherapy, or vitrectomy, as a way to reduce the complications of the disease. Learn more about what toxoplasmosis is, how to get it, and how to treat it.
5. Sarcoma de Kaposi
Kaposi’s sarcoma is a tumor characteristic of people infected with HIV, which affects any region that contains skin and mucous membranes, and can also appear in the eyes, and severely affect vision.
Treatment is done with antiretroviral therapy, chemotherapy, and, if necessary, ophthalmic surgery. Better understand what Kaposi’s sarcoma is and how it arises.
6. Other infections
Several other infections can affect the vision of people with HIV, and some include herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or candidiasis, for example, all of which must be treated by the dialectologist together with the ophthalmologist. Find out more about AIDS-related illnesses