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J Ophthalmic Inflamm Infect. 2013 Jan 21;3(1):17. doi: 10.1186/1869-5760-3-17.

Retinal arteriolar occlusions due to cytomegalovirus retinitis in elderly patients without HIV.

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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, 900 NW 17th ST, Miami, FL 33136, USA.



Five of 7 (71%) elderly immunocompetent patients with cytomegalovirus retinitis had retinal arteriolar occlusions versus 2 of 8 (25%) elderly immunocompromised patients and 1 of 19 (5%) younger HIV-infected patients. Compared to HIV-infected patients, elderly patients were more likely to have occlusive events, neovascularization or hemorrhage, and underlying vasculopathy. The purpose of this study is to report the novel finding of extensive retinal arteriolar occlusions and neovascularization in immunocompetent patients with cytomegalovirus retinitis. This is a retrospective observational cohort study of cytomegalovirus retinitis (CMVR) in a university setting. Seven patients were elderly but not immunocompromised, 8 were elderly and iatrogenically immunocompromised, and 16 were HIV-infected. All patients underwent polymerase chain reaction testing of intraocular fluid. Primary outcome measure was visual acuity. Secondary outcome measures were vascular occlusions, ischemic complications, and response to treatment.


Mean age was 73, 70, and 41 years for immunocompetent, immunocompromised, and HIV-infected patients, respectively. Diabetes and vascular disease were common in the elderly. Vision loss to less than 5/200 occurred in 50% of the immunocompetent elderly patients, and 17% of CMV eyes in immunocompromised and HIV patients. Occlusion of the entire retinal vasculature occurred in 4/7 (57%) of immunocompetent patients despite lack of Zone I involvement, and rubeosis occurred in three, disc neovascularization in one, and vitreous hemorrhage in two patients. Vascular occlusive events were less common in immunocompromised patients and rare in the HIV-infected.


CMVR in non-HIV-infected elderly patients is associated with retinal arteriolar occlusions. An intact host immune response may increase damage to retinal vessels. Prompt diagnosis may avert catastrophic vision loss.

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