Prevalence of HIV-associated ophthalmic disease among patients enrolling for antiretroviral treatment in India: A cross-sectional study

Journal Article


Journal Title

BMC Infectious Diseases

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

BioMed Central Ltd


University of Cape Town

BACKGROUND: The ocular manifestations of HIV may lead to visual impairment or blindness. In India, patients typically initiate antiretroviral treatment (ART) with low CD4 cell counts when the risk of ocular complications may be high. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence and types of HIV-associated ocular conditions in patients referred for ART in India. METHODS: This cross-sectional study was undertaken at a large public sector ART centre in Mumbai, India. Data collection including a standardised symptom screen, and an ophthalmic examination were performed on all consecutive patients satisfying the criteria for enrolment into the ART clinic irrespective of the presence or absence of ophthalmic/visual symptoms. RESULTS: Enrolled patients (n = 149) had a median CD4 cell count of 180 cell/muL (inter-quartile range [IQR], 106-253 cells/muL). The prevalence of HIV-associated ocular disease was 17.5% (95% CI, 11.2-23.6%) in all participants and 23.8% (95% CI: 14.5-33.1) in those with CD4 cell counts <200 cells/muL (n = 84). Only 7.7% of patients with HIV-associated ocular disease reported any eye symptoms in the standardised symptom screen. Objective visual impairment was detected in 20% of those with HIV-associated ocular disease compared to 6% in those without ocular manifestations (p = 0.02). Vitreoretinal disease was the most common manifestation, of which cytomegalovirus retinitis (CMVR) was the most frequent retinal infection (overall prevalence 8.7%, 95% CI: 4.1-13.3%). In a multivariable analysis, HIV-associated ocular disease was independently associated with a CD4 count <100 cells/muL (odds ratio [OR], 6.3, 95% CI: 1.5-25.9) and WHO clinical stages 3 and 4 (OR 9.4, 95% CI: 2.4-37.2). However, symptoms were not independently predictive of ocular disease. Sensitivity of ocular symptom screening was 7.7%, with a positive predictive value of 18% in this population. CONCLUSION: Over a fifth of unselected patients who are eligible for ART in this setting have HIV-related ocular disease of which CMVR is the most common form. Such patients may be at risk of developing ocular immune reconstitution phenomena during ART. Screening for ocular symptoms is not a reliable method to identify those with ocular morbidity and this highlights the need for routine ophthalmic screening prior to commencement of ART.