Background: Cystoid macular edema (CME) in AIDS patients with inactive cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis is an uncommon but potentially sight-threatening complication. The pathogenesis of CME in these patients is unclear. This study tries to identify possible risk factors by analyzing the charts of five patients.
Methods: Ten eyes of 5 patients that finally developed CME were followed for an average of 18 months. The initial retinal lesions, their response to antiviral treatment, the development of CME, and the patients' immune status were prospectively monitored.
Results: CMV retinitis was diagnosed at a median CD4+ count of 3 cells/mm3 (range 0-11). All eyes responded to the initial systemic anti-viral treatment. At the onset of CME, CMV retinitis was controlled by antiviral maintenance therapy in all patients [ganciclovir (n = 2), cidofovir (n = 2), foscarnet (n = 1)]. The median time between diagnosis of CMV retinitis and onset of CME was 11.5 months (range 5-24). Development of CME was associated with significant visual loss: acuity ranged from 0.05 to 0.7 when CME was first noticed, compared to 0.8-1.25 at diagnosis of CMV retinitis. Duration of inflammation, size or zone of retinal necrosis did not favor the development of CME, neither did the antiviral therapy. A weak correlation of CME development and immune status (expressed as increase of CD4+ cells) was found. Due to systemic corticosteroids CME resolved.
Conclusions: CME is a new visual threat to AIDS-patients with CMV retinitis whose immune status improved under the latest combined antiretroviral therapy. Therapy with oral corticosteroids may positively influence this condition.