Vitreous and Chorioretinal Lesions in People Who Inject Drugs and Are Hospitalized with Bloodstream and Related Infections

Published:March 02, 2021DOI:


      To determine the prevalence of and to characterize vitreous and chorioretinal lesions, to identify causative organisms, and to correlate symptoms with ophthalmic involvement in people who inject drugs and are hospitalized with bloodstream infection (BSI), related metastatic foci of infection (MFI), or both.


      An academic hospital-based cross-sectional study.


      Patients admitted with BSI or MFI related to injection drug use (IDU).


      Patients underwent a complete eye examination within 72 hours of enrollment. Characteristics including gender; age; race; injection drug of choice (DOC); presence of coinfection with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or human immunodeficiency virus; pathogen causing systemic infection and type of infection; and history of prior infection related to IDU were recorded.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Presence of vitreous or chorioretinal findings, or both.


      Ninety-one unique patients with 96 separate hospitalizations for systemic infection were enrolled from March 28, 2018, through March 30, 2020. Vitreous or chorioretinal involvement was identified in 16 of 96 patients (16.7%). The most common ocular findings were intraretinal or white-centered hemorrhage in 9 of 96 patients, chorioretinal infiltrate in 8 of 96 patients, endophthalmitis in 5 of 96 patients, and cotton wool spots in 3 of 96 patients. Of the patients with ocular involvement, only 7 of 16 patients (44%) were symptomatic, and 5 of these were patients with endophthalmitis; the others showed chorioretinal infiltrates or intraretinal or white-centered hemorrhage and cotton wool spots. Staphylococcus aureus was the most common causative pathogen in patients with and without ocular findings. Presence of ocular symptoms, worse visual acuity, and injection DOC of methamphetamine were correlated with the presence of ocular findings.


      Patients without ocular symptoms with systemic infections related to IDU may have chorioretinal findings. Further study is needed to characterize better the epidemiologic features of these infections and to identify risk factors for ocular involvement in people who inject drugs.


      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      BSI (bloodstream infection), DOC (drug of choice), HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), IDU (injection drug use), IE (infective endocarditis), MFI (metastatic foci of infection), VA (visual acuity)
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