Original Research

Ocular surface disorder among HIV and AIDS patients using antiretroviral drugs

Solani D. Mathebula, Prisilla S. Makunyane
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 78, No 1 | a457 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v78i1.457 | © 2019 Solani D. Mathebula, Prisilla S. Makunyane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 May 2018 | Published: 31 January 2019

About the author(s)

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

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Background: Ocular disorders occur in 50% – 80% of HIV and AIDS patients, and dry eye has been reported as one of the most common anterior segment manifestations in these patients.

Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate ocular surface disorders (OSDs) or dry eye in people living with HIV and AIDS on antiretroviral (ARVs) in a controlled setting.

Setting: Mankweng Hospital, ARV Clinic.

Methods: This study included 130 HIV and AIDS participants attending an ART Clinic at Mankweng Hospital and 48 controls. Each participant had an anterior and posterior segment eye examination with a slit lamp and fundus camera, respectively. The dry eye or OSD was investigated with Schirmer’s test and invasive fluorescein tear breakup time (TBUT).

Results: The means of the Schirmer’s test and TBUT were 6.7 mm ± 4.0 mm and 6.9 ± 4 seconds in HIV and AIDS participants, while the means in the control group were 13.5 mm ± 3 mm and 14.2 ± 3 s, respectively. The correlations between the severity of dry eye and the level of CD4 cell count were positive and significant.

Conclusion: There was decreased tear production as measured by the Schirmer’s test and TBUT in our study participants. Statistically significant correlations were found between the severity of dry eye and the level of CD4 cell count. Although the entire pathogenesis of dry eye in HIV and AIDS patients remains unclear, it may be associated with lymphocytic infiltration and destruction of the lacrimal gland.


AIDS; HIV; dry eye; CD4+ cell count; Schirmer’s test; tear film breakup time


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