Objective To describe the functional and anatomic outcomes of progressive outer retinal necrosis treated with intravitreal ganciclovir sodium injections.
Methods A retrospective, interventional case series of all patients fitting established clinical diagnostic criteria for progressive outer retinal necrosis was conducted at a single institution in South Africa. Eyes with salvageable vision were treated with repeated intravitreal ganciclovir injections until regression was achieved or the eye lost light perception. Pars plana vitrectomy was performed when retinal detachments failed to resolve spontaneously. The main outcome measures were visual acuity (VA) and response to intravitreal ganciclovir.
Results Thirty-nine patients (67 eyes), all of whom were HIV-positive (median CD4+ T-lymphocyte count, 30/μL), were included; 12 patients (31%) died during the study period. Twenty-eight of 36 patients (78%) had a recent history of cutaneous varicella zoster virus infection. At the initial evaluation, the mean VA was 6/120, with 12 eyes (18%) having already lost perception of light. Intravitreal ganciclovir injections were started immediately in all salvageable eyes (n = 50). Improvements in visual outcomes trended toward significance in eyes responding early (≤21 days), achieving a median final VA of 6/36 (P = .046). Retinal detachment occurred in 34 eyes (51%), predicating a significantly worse visual outcome (P < .001). Excluding eyes with no light perception at the start of the study period, median final VA was hand movements (range, 6/4 to no light perception); 9 eyes lost perception of light despite treatment.
Conclusions Progressive outer retinal necrosis remains a devastating condition, often with acute and profound loss of vision. Intravitreal ganciclovir may offer a more targeted approach and, compared with earlier reports using systemic therapy alone, may result in better visual outcomes.