Background: Opportunistic infections frequently involve the anterior and posterior segments of the eye but rarely occur in the orbit in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The authors managed eight patients with HIV and unilateral orbital infections who presented between July 1988 and March 1995. Methods: Records of the patients were reviewed. A literature review of orbital infections in patients infected with HIV also was conducted. Results: There were five men and three women, with a mean age of 33.8 years. The mean CD-4 cell count from five of the eight patients was 18.4 cells/ram3. Invasive aspergillosis was the most common orbital infection occurring in four patients, all of whom had contiguous sinus involvement and intracranial extension. Orbital cellulitis with subperiosteal abscesses secondary to ethmoiditis caused by Propionibacterium aches and Pseudomonas aeruginosa developed in two patients. Orbital cellulitis and panophthalmitis secondary to Staphylococcus aureus endogenous endophthalmitis developed in one patient, and one patient had presumed syphilitic optic neuritis, orbital periostitis, and necrotizing vasculitis. Five patients had permanent visual loss, including four who had loss of light perception. Four patients died of orbital disease within 1 year of presentation, and three deaths were attributed to intracranial spread of Aspergillus fumigatus. Other organisms reported in the literature that caused orbital infections in patients with HIV include Rhizopus arrhizus, Toxoplasma gondii, and Pneumocystis carinii. Conclusion: Opportunistic infections of the orbit from bacterial, fungal, and parasitic organisms should be recognized as a serious complication of systemic HIV infection and are associated with a high ocular morbidity and mortality rate.
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