Cytomegalovirus retinitis : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Alternate Names : CMV retinitis

Definition

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis is a viral inflammation of the retina of the eye.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

CMV retinitis is caused by a member of a group of herpes-type viruses. CMV is very common. Most people are exposed to CMV in their lifetime, but typically only those with weakened immune systems become ill from CMV infection. Serious CMV infections can occur in people who have weakened immune systems due to:

  • AIDS
  • Bone marrow transplant
  • Chemotherapy
  • Drugs that suppress the immune system
  • Organ transplant

Pictures & Images

Eye

The eye is the organ of sight, a nearly spherical hollow globe filled with fluids (humors). The outer layer or tunic (sclera, or white, and cornea) is fibrous and protective. The middle tunic layer (choroid, ciliary body and the iris) is vascular. The innermost layer (the retina) is nervous or sensory. The fluids in the eye are divided by the lens into the vitreous humor (behind the lens) and the aqueous humor (in front of the lens). The lens itself is flexible and suspended by ligaments which allow it to change shape to focus light on the retina, which is composed of sensory neurons.

CMV retinitis

CMV retinitis

Cytomegalovirus is a large herpes-type virus commonly found in humans that can cause serious infections in people with impaired immunity. Chorioretinitis, which may cause blindness, is treated with antiviral medications, which may stop the replication of the virus but will not destroy it.

Antibodies

Antibodies

Antigens are large molecules (usually proteins) on the surface of cells, viruses, fungi, bacteria, and some non-living substances such as toxins, chemicals, drugs, and foreign particles. The immune system recognizes antigens and produces antibodies that destroy substances containing antigens.


Review Date : 12/1/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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