Cytomegalovirus Retinitis

What is Cytomegalovirus Retinitis?

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis is an infection of the retina, a part of the eye. It's caused by a virus known as cytomegalovirus that is a member of the herpes virus family and is commonly found throughout the world. CMV retinitis is typically seen in those with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, but can also be seen in patients with other conditions. The infection can lead to vision loss if left untreated.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptoms of CMV retinitis are floaters, blurred vision, and decreased night vision. Other symptoms that can also occur include red-tinted vision, flashes of light, and a decrease in the peripheral fields of vision. Early diagnosis and treatment of CMV retinitis is essential to protecting one's vision.

Risk Factors

Patients with weakened immune systems are most at risk for developing CMV retinitis. These include patients with HIV/AIDS, cancer, certain autoimmune diseases, organ transplant recipients, and those on certain immunosuppressive medications. It's important to note that a weakened immune system can cause CMV retinitis, even in the absence of any of these diseases or treatments.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of CMV retinitis is typically done via a comprehensive eye exam by an ophthalmologist. During the exam, your eye doctor will look for any signs of the infection and if needed, may perform a fundus exam to further evaluate the condition. The most common treatment for CMV retinitis is oral and/or intravenous antiviral medications. In some cases, a combination of medications may be prescribed. Surgery is rarely needed as a treatment option, but may also be done in more severe cases.


Unfortunately, due to the nature of the virus, CMV retinitis cannot be prevented. However, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of it developing in those with weakened immune systems. These include avoiding contact with potentially infected body fluids, eating a healthy diet, getting proper rest and exercise, and avoiding cigarettes and drugs. It's also important to get regular exams from your optometrist or ophthalmologist and to promptly treat any infections to prevent any further damage.