Original Research

Loss of amplitude of accommodation in pre-presbyopic HIV and AIDS patients under treatment with antiretrovirals

Solani D. Mathebula, Prisilla S. Makunyane
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 76, No 1 | a411 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v76i1.411 | © 2017 Solani D. Mathebula, Prisilla S. Makunyane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 June 2017 | Published: 01 December 2017

About the author(s)

Solani D. Mathebula, Department of Optometry, University of Limpopo, South Africa
Prisilla S. Makunyane, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pretoria, Steve Biko Academic Hospital, South Africa


Background: The prevalence of HIV and AIDS is causing an enormous public health burden. Its manifestations spare no organ. Ocular complications are mainly attributed to various opportunistic infections which are directly or indirectly caused by immune deficiency.

Purpose and aim: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of HIV and AIDS on subjective amplitude of accommodation of patients under treatment with antiretrovirals and then to compare their results to those of control subjects.

Methods: The study took place over a period of 10 months. A quantitative study was carried out on 58 subjects (29 ± 5.5 years) with HIV and AIDS and 35 (28.67 ± 4.6 years) controls of similar age. Amplitude of accommodation was measured using the subjective Royal Air Force push-up method. The influence of CD4+ cell count was also recorded.

Results: People with HIV and AIDS had lower mean amplitude of accommodation (5.69 ± 0.88 D) compared to controls (8.53 ± 1.2 D). The decrease in amplitude of accommodation did not show any correlation with the CD4+ cell count. Lower amplitude of accommodation exists in people living with HIV and AIDS when compared with age-related healthy people.

Conclusion: The results suggest that patients with HIV and AIDS on antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) have reduced amplitude of accommodation and might experience presbyopia earlier in life than participants without HIV and AIDS. The reduced amplitude of accommodation could be the initial presentation of HIV infection before the systemic manifestation. The possible causes could be the direct neuronal infection by HIV-1, ARVs use, pathological changes of the lens and ciliary muscle or the sensory component of the visual system. It is unknown whether the reduced amplitude of accommodation occurred prior to antiretroviral therapy or represents an ongoing injury to the eye and visual system by the HIV.


accommodation; presbyopia; RAF ruler; push-up method; ARVs


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