HIV-Related Eye Problems

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Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease of the body's immune system. AIDS is caused by infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which attacks the body's cells-particularly the white cells. The most common eye problem for people with AIDS is cotton wool spots, a condition characterized by fluffy-looking white spots on the retina that does not threaten vision. Some people with AIDS develop a serious infection of the retina caused by Cytomegalovirus (CMV). There is no cure for CMV retinitis. However, early detection can slow its progression. If left untreated, it can result in retinal detachment and serious vision loss. AIDS can also cause Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), a vascular tumor that grows on the eyelid or white of the eye.

Signs and Symptoms

CMV retinitis: floaters, flashes, blind spots; KS: purple-red growth on the eyelid or white of the eye

Related Eye Conditions

Retinal Detachment


Anti-CMV drugs (Ganciclovir, Foscarnet) to slow the progression of CMV retinitis; if necessary, excision, radiation or freezing (cryotherapy)