CMV Retinitis - Symptoms and Treatment
CMV retinitis or cytomegalovirus retinitis is an eye condition characterized by the inflammation of the light-sensing cells in the retina and caused of a herpes-type virus.
Present in most adults, the CMV virus remains latent in immunocompetent hosts (people having a healthy immune system) causing no symptoms and becomes active leading to specific signs in immunocompromised persons (individuals with an altered immune function). According to online data, between 50% and 85% of all adults aged 40 or more test positive for this virus but the most exposed to its damaging action are people affected by HIV and AIDS.
Just like any other form of retinitis, this inflammation of the retina can lead to serious vision impairments when left untreated and diagnosed in its advanced stages. So in order to recognize it and prevent its complications, getting familiar with the triggers of this condition and learning about its symptoms is a must.
Causes and symptoms of CMV retinitis
As said before, the ailment appears in persons with a weakened immune system due to drugs consumption, in people with autoimmune disorders, in those receiving chemotherapy and in individuals who underwent a bone marrow transplant or organ transplant.
The manifestations of this condition include eye redness, discomfort and pain, blurred vision, floaters or black spots appearing in the visual field, increased sensitivity to light, retinal detachment and vision loss in advanced cases. Although serious, these symptoms are often neglected or mistaken for other problems because of their unspecific character and this delays the diagnosis and treatment of CMV retinitis.
In most patients only one of the eyes is affected in the incipient stages. However, the ailment progresses quite quickly when no treatment is applied, so vision loss can occur in less than 4 to 6 months. When the immune function is severely affected by other health problems, symptoms accompanying this form of retinitis can worsen despite the followed treatment plan. This happens when the cytomegalovirus becomes resistant to drugs and the organism is too weakened to fight against the pathogen.
Besides blindness, kidney impairment and a low white blood cells count are another two severe complications triggered by this virus.
CMV retinitis prevention and treatment
This ailment is often recurrent so taking some preventive measures for strengthening the immune system is the best method to keep the virus under control. Dietary supplements, an adequate diet, an active lifestyle and a reduced stress levels can prevent CMV from exerting its destroying action upon retina and other organs. Getting tested regularly and taking HIV medicines is also helpful for reducing the risk of developing this form of retinitis. A standard eye exam, some blood or urine tests and a tissue biopsy are more than enough for diagnosing the ailment so in case you experience some of its symptoms make sure to see your physician as soon as possible.
Treatment alternatives for this condition include oral and injectable medicines administered intravenously or intraviteously (injected into the eye). The purpose of these medicines is to reduce CMV retinitis symptoms, stabilizing vision and preventing blindness. Still, some of them are quite powerful and can trigger serious adverse reactions in immunosuppressed individuals, so before starting a treatment scheme you should make sure the benefits outweigh the potential side effects.