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Located on W. Drake Rd. in Ft. Collins West of Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital

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Home » Your Eye Health » Conditions » CMV Retinitis

CMV Retinitis

CMV retinitis signs and symptoms

AIDS patients sometimes also experience changes to the retina and optic nerve without clear signs of CMV retinitis.

What causes CMV retinitis?

CMV retinitis is caused by the cytomegalovirus, which is a very common virus. About 80% of adults harbor antibodies to CMV, which indicates their bodies have successfully fought it off. The difference for people who have AIDS is that their weakened or non-functioning immune system cannot stave off this virus. Other people with a weakened or suppressed immune system, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant, are also at risk of CMV retinitis.

How is CMV retinitis treated?

If you have active AIDS and are experiencing visual symptoms, you should see a retina specialist immediately. A person newly-diagnosed with CMV retinitis can expect to visit the specialist every two to four weeks.

Once the disease is controlled, the retina specialist may recommend follow-up visits with your regular eye doctor every three to six months.

Drugs for CMV retinitis. Anti-viral drugs commonly used to treat CMV retinitis are ganciclovir (Cytovene), foscarnet (Foscavir) and cidofovir (Vistide). These medications can slow down the progression of CMV, but they can’t cure it. These potent anti-viral drugs can also cause unpleasant or serious side effects.

Ganciclovir is available in a pill, used following two weeks of intravenous infusion, and also in an implant called Vitrasert. The implant releases medication directly into the eye, so it doesn’t cause the side effects experienced with intravenous infusion or with the pill.

Drugs for HIV. The biggest breakthrough in AIDS treatment is highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), a combination of drugs that suppress the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), also known as the AIDS virus. HAART allows your immune system to recover and fight off infections like CMV retinitis.

AIDS is a serious global health problem. If you have AIDS, are HIV positive or have a compromised immune system from other causes, see your eye doctor frequently to rule out CMV retinitis and to discuss the latest treatment options if a CMV-related eye problem is detected.

As of Tuesday evening, March 17th, the CDC has recommended that all routine eye care be deferred until further notice, in order to slow the transmission of COVID-19 through our community. We will follow their recommendations and close our office to regular eye exams until further notice.

Please be assured that we are still available to triage all urgent and emergent issues as well as help you with routine matters during this challenging time.

What does this mean?

1) If you are scheduled for an annual eye examination our office will contact you to reschedule
2) If you need to replace glasses or contact lenses and need an extension on your prescription, please contact us and we will assist you in obtaining some until you can come in for a visit.
3) If you are running out of medication please contact us and we can transmit a refill electronically to your pharmacy.
4) If you have an ocular emergency we are, as always, available to help you at any time. Call us at 970-221-4811.
5) If you have an issue that cannot wait for an office visit, contact us and we will schedule a FaceTime, Skype or telephone appointment with one of our doctors. Medicare has temporarily relaxed its telehealth rules to allow this type of communication during the pandemic crisis. Other insurers may follow suit and allow for reimbursement of virtual care costs. The consultation must be initiated at your request.
6) During this period of social distancing and quarantine, we must all do our part by restricting activities outside the home except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
7) Please remember that 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild and resolve within a week. However, if you feel your symptoms are worsening, call ahead before visiting your doctor’s office or emergency department and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.

The CDC has many wonderful resources. Arming yourself and your family with clear information will help you avoid undue stress.https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

We have asked our staff to stay home until further notice to protect them, our patients, our city, our nation, and our planet. Despite the financial and emotional hardships this will cause, we ask every one of you to do the same.

Together we will weather this storm.

With sincerest wishes for your continued good health, we remain at your service,

Eyecare Associates