Ocular manifestations of HIV infection

D. A. Jabs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

280 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the frequency of ocular complications and the clinical outcomes of these complications in patients with various stages of HIV infection. Methods: Retrospective review of all HIV-infected patients seen in an AIDS ophthalmology clinic from November 1983 through December 31, 1992. Results: Eleven-hundred sixty-three patients were seen for ophthalmologic evaluation. Of these, 781 had the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), 226 had symptomatic HIV infection (AIDs-related complex [ARC]), and 156 had asymptomatic HIV infection. Non-infectious HIV retinopathy was the most common ocular complication, affecting 50% of the patients with AIDS, 34% of the patients with ARC, and 3% of the patients with asymptomatic HIV infection. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis was the most common opportunistic ocular infection, affecting 37% of the patients with AIDS. Other opportunistic ocular infections, including ocular toxoplasmosis, varicella zoster virus retinitis, and Pneumocystis choroidopathy were all much less common, each occurring in ≤ 1% of the patients with AIDS. Treatment of CMV retinitis with either foscarnet or ganciclovir was successful in initially controlling the retinitis. However, relapse represented a significant problem and required frequent re-inductions. As a consequence of the retinal damage associated with relapse, loss of visual acuity occurred. The median time to a visual acuity of 20/200 or worse for all eyes with CMV retinitis was 13.4 months, and the median time to a visual acuity of 20/200 or worse in the better eye was 21.1 months. At last follow- up, 75% of the patients had a final visual acuity of 20/40 or better in at least one eye. Retinal detachments were a frequent ophthalmologic complication of CMV retinitis with a cumulative probability of a retinal detachment in at least one eye of 57% at 12 months after the diagnosis of CMV retinitis. Herpes zoster ophthalmicus developed in 3% of the overall series and was seen in all stages of HIV infection. Fifty-six percent of the cases of ocular toxoplasmosis had simultaneous toxoplasmic cerebritis. Ocular toxoplasmosis responded to standard anti-microbial therapy. Varicella zoster virus retinitis, when manifested by the acute retinal necrosis (ARN) syndrome, responded to intravenous acyclovir therapy. Conversely, in a limited number of patients with the progressive outer retinal necrosis syndrome, the disease responded poorly to intravenous acyclovir therapy, but appeared to respond to combination foscarnet and acyclovir therapy. Neuro- ophthalmic lesions were present in 6% of the patients with AIDS. The most common cause of a neuro-ophthalmic lesion was cryptococcal meningitis, and 25% of the patients with cryptococcal meningitis developed a neuro-ophthalmic complication. Conclusions: Ocular manifestations are common in patients with AIDS. CMV retinitis represented a major vision-threatening problem in these patients. While available therapy was successful in initially controlling the retinitis, the phenomenon of relapse resulted in some degree of long-term visual loss. Preservation of the patient's visual acuity in at least one eye was generally successful. Other opportunistic ocular infections were substantially less common than CMV retinitis but require aggressive therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-683
Number of pages61
JournalTransactions of the American Ophthalmological Society
StatePublished - 1995


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