HIV is the abbreviation used for the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS is a life-threatening but preventable disease.
HIV attacks the body's immune system. The immune system is the body's defense against infections. With time, HIV weakens your ability to fight off serious infections and some cancers. When this happens, HIV infection becomes AIDS.
About two-thirds of people with HIV or AIDS develop eye problems. Almost any part of the eye can be affected. The problems can range from mild to severe. HIV/AIDS can cause blindness.
People with HIV or AIDS are more likely to get certain infections that can affect the retina (light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). The infections may cause various problems, including:
Other eye problems that can happen with AIDS include:
Finally, AIDS often can affect the brain. Changes in the brain that then affect the eyes may cause:
Most people with AIDS and AIDS-related eye problems have no symptoms at all. People with HIV/AIDS should get regular eye exams. Ask your provider how often you should have your eyes checked. Possible symptoms of AIDS-related eye problems are:
Medicines for AIDS-related eye problems depend on the problem. For example:
For more information on AIDS, call the 24-hour CDC Hotline: 1-800-232-4636.