JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
REVIEW
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Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and its ocular complications.

Human immunodeficiency virus infection is the first major pandemic of the 20th century. At present, almost 10 million people are known to be infected with this virus, and it is estimated that by the year 2000, approximately 40 million people will be infected. Transmission of this deadly infection is predominantly by sexual contact. Individuals infected with this virus pass through several predictable stages with progressive decrease in circulating CD4+ T cells. During the advanced stage, these patients develop various opportunistic infections or malignancies, or both. It is this advanced stage that was first recognized as AIDS, which has a 100% mortality rate. The opportunistic organisms that can involve the eye in patients with AIDS include cytomegalovirus, herpes zoster, Toxoplasma gondii, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Cryptococcus neoformans, Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare, Pneumocystis carinii, Histoplasma capsulatum, Candida, and others. Intraocular lesions from these agents often represent disseminated infections. Visual morbidity occurs secondary to retinitis due to cytomegalovirus, herpes zoster, or Toxoplasma gondii. Anti-viral agents such as ganciclovir or foscarnet are effective against cytomegalovirus infection. The role of the ophthalmologist in the diagnosis and management of AIDS is becoming increasingly important. Not only does the eye reflect systemic disease, but ocular involvement may often precede systemic manifestations. In the AIDS patient, the ophthalmologist thus has an opportunity to make not only a slight-saving, but also life-saving diagnosis of disseminated opportunistic infections.

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