Note: Many patients with CMV retinitis have no symptoms.
Retinitis usually begins in one eye, but often progresses to the other eye. Without treatment, progressive damage to the retina can lead to blindness in 4-6 months or less.
Even with regular treatment, the disease can worsen to blindness. This may be because the virus becomes resistant to the drugs so that the drugs are no longer effective, or because the patient's immune system has deteriorated further.
Patients with CMV retinitis also have a chance of developing retinal detachment, in which the retina detaches from the nerves of the eye, causing blindness. Systemic CMV infection also can occur.
CMV retinitis is diagnosed through a standard ophthalmologic exam. Dilation of the pupils and ophthalmoscopy will show signs of CMV retinitis.
CMV infection can be diagnosed with blood or urine tests that look for substances specific to the infection. A tissue biopsy can detect the viral infection and presence of CMV virus particles, but this is rarely done.
Drew WL. Cytomegalovirus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 399.
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