HIV is still a serious health epidemic, with African Americans representing a majority (44 percent) of new HIV diagnoses. People with HIV often experience problems with their eyes. In fact, certain eye conditions can be the first signs of an HIV infection.
The 4 F's to look for
These four conditions of the eyes, in particular, have been found to be common indications of HIV. They include:
- Failing, or blurred, vision
- Floaters, or floating spots
- Flashes of light
- Field defects, or blind spots
HIV-infected persons may also experience symptoms of dry eye, double vision, eye pain and redness. There is also a condition called CMV retinitis, which is a more serious eye infection that occurs in about 20 to 30 percent of people with AIDS.
CMV can also cause a condition called detached retina, in which the retina actually pulls away from the back of the eye. The purpose of the retina is to receive light, convert the light into neural signals, and send these signals to the brain for visual recognition. So, a detached retina is a serious condition that can cause severe vision loss.
A yearly thorough eye exam is highly recommended for people who have been diagnosed with HIV. It can result in not only saving their eyesight but also saving their life.