Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a disease frequently associated with Acquired Immunodeficiency Disorder (AIDS) that could cause patients to lose their vision. Historically, ¼ of AIDS patients developed CMV Retinitis, but this number has recently dropped due to drug development.
CMV compromises the light-sensitive receptors in the retina that allow us to see, sometimes causing floaters (small specks in your vision), blurry vision and/or decreased peripheral vision. Light flashes and sudden loss of vision can also occur, and usually starts in one eye and spreads to the other. If left untreated, CMV Retinitis can cause retinal detachment and blindness in just two to six months.
Cytomegalovirus, a common virus belonging to the herpes family, causes CMV Retinitis. While about 80% of adults have antibodies to CMV — meaning they’ve been infected by the virus but have successfully fought it off — AIDS patients have weakened or non-functioning immune systems that can’t fight the virus off. Others with weakened immune systems (ie: people undergoing chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants) are also at risk, though not as high a risk as AIDS patients.
If you have AIDS and are experiencing vision problems, see a retina specialist immediately. Once diagnosed, CMV Retinitis patients will see their retina specialists every two to four weeks, until the disease is under control, at which point the patient can expect to see their general ophthalmologist every three to six months. Anti-viral drugs are used to treat CMV Retinitis.