CMV retinitis symptoms may appear in one eye or in both at the same time. But before anything else, what exactly is CMV retinitis? CMV (cytomegalovirus) is an infection that targets the light-sensing cells in the retina. It is a crucial condition that needs immediate medical attention as it leads to loss of vision or worse, complete blindness.
This eye problem is crucial in the sense that it can affect people of all ages, most especially those with weak immune systems. To diagnose CMV retinitis, the eye doctor will assess the patient’s eyes through an ophthalmologic exam. It can also be diagnosed by blood or urine samples where certain substances can be detected related to the infection.
People who are vulnerable to CMV retinitis include:
- Newborns. At least 25% of symptomatic infants are diagnosed with CMV infection while about 1% are asymptomatic.
- People undergoing chemotherapy.
- Organ Recipients.
- People positive with HIV/AIDS.
CMV Retinitis Symptoms
The herpes type virus can be commonly seen in adults. But on the other note, adults with healthy immune systems barely exhibit signs and symptoms. The symptoms do not usually show in the early stages. According to studies, the virus stays dormant for quite a while before the vision starts to get blurry. It’s not painful at all as well, in fact, you would not even notice that you have CMV retinitis unless you go to an eye doctor. However, indicators such as follows may occur;
- Eye floaters
- Flashes in the eye
- Blurry vision
- Blind spots
- Losing side visions
Note that these symptoms may appear on one eye after the other or in both eyes at once. Visit your eye doctor right away to prevent the progression of the virus. People with very weak immune systems (even without symptoms) are advised to have regular eye checkups as they are more susceptible to CMV retinitis.
Treatment and Management
The treatment often includes medication such as ganciclovir and foscarnet. These can be taken orally or by injection, directly to the eyes, or implants that can automatically release the drugs in your system.
Another treatment for CMV retinitis is laser surgery. This will significantly improve the vision and all the damaged sites in the retina.
Since CMV retinitis is a viral infection disease, strengthening the immune system is an important factor to consider. It doesn’t only help in improving the patient’s condition but it also prevents the virus from spreading and growing. Patients with HIV or Aids might be placed on a different kind of treatment like highly active antiretroviral therapy. This treatment will improve the health of their immune system and help their body fight off the virus. Non-HIV patients may also receive the same kind of treatment.
Sadly, even though the treatments work and prevent the development of the virus, the lost vision can longer be reinstated. In short, the main objective of the treatment is to stop the spread of the virus from progressing and not to bring back normal eyesight. This is the reason why regularly seeing a specialist after the treatment is very important. You will never know if the virus is about to attack you again or not.