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Cell death from cytomegalovirus may bring new life to treatment of retinal disease
Date:1/5/2009

ts may experience blurred vision and floaters, eye pain and redness. Treatments include antivirals that may need to be injected or implanted directly into the eye or even surgery.

"Normally the retina is neatly stratified. What happens is you get an infection in the most external part of the retina in humans the virus may actually have been latent in the retina and it triggers cell death of the next layer and eventually virus spreads deeper into the retina and spreads out more," Dr. Atherton said. "Unchecked it can ruin your vision," especially if it affects the macula, or central part of the retina responsible for highest visual acuity.

Fortunately, despite the fact that most people are infected with this herpesvirus family member that can be found in saliva, blood and semen, it's most typically latent.

Cytomegalovirus retinitis' last big resurrection came with the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, when nearly half of patients who were dying were going blind as well, Dr. Atherton said. The advent of antiretrovirals to keep HIV in check helped silence cytomegalovirus retinitis as well but today the incidence is again increasing, she said. A suppressed immune system is the primary reason cytomegalovirus becomes active, which means neonates and patients with organ or bone marrow transplants or taking therapy also are increased risk. Scientists aren't certain about the recent, albeit less severe, increase in disease incidence, but HIV patients who have become resistant to their therapy or just tired of taking it, likely are a factor.


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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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