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HIV is a condition that affects the body’s ability to fight infections and diseases so that no part of the body is impervious to attack. In advanced cases of the disease (AIDS), 7 out of 10 patients have eye problems. These issues vary from mild to severe and could lead to blindness. Thankfully, people with HIV who are in good health and are consistent with their medications hardly have eyesight issues.

Some AIDS-related eye problems include:

CMV retinitis:

This affects 20 to 30 percent of people with AIDS. It is caused by a virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV). It can cause severe vision loss in a few months if left undiagnosed. Its first signs are usually blurred vision.

Detached retina:

CMV sometimes causes a detached retina. Surgery might be required to put the retina back and save the vision.

HIV retinopathy:

Cotton-wool spots appear on the retina and damaged blood vessels spill blood on the retina, damaging it significantly.

Kaposi sarcoma:

This tumour appears as purple-red (in light-skinned people) to brown (in dark-skinned people) lesions on the eyelids. This tumour can be removed and radiotherapy applied to eliminate it.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva:

This usually appears as a growth at the lower eyelid or inner corner of the eyelid. This condition is related to HIV/AIDS infection as well as human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. If left untreated, it can spread to the lymph nodes.

People with HIV/AIDS should see their eye doctor immediately they notice any changes in their vision to avoid irreversible vision loss. Changes such as;

  • Flashing lights
  • Blind spots
  • Sudden or gradual reduced vision/ blurred vision
  • Floating spots or ‘spider-webs’
  • Colours not looking right
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye pain
  • Red or watery eyes

People with HIV/AIDS need to take care of their nutrition, be consistent with their HIV medications and get regular eye examinations. Contact us for more advice and information on the care of your eyes.