What is the role of cryptococcal infection in the ocular manifestations of HIV infection?

Updated: Jul 21, 2021
  • Author: Luca Rosignoli, MD; Chief Editor: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS  more...
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Cryptococcus neoformans is a budding, spore-forming, yeastlike fungus, with a diameter of 5-10 µm. A clear mucinous capsule usually surrounds this organism. This capsule can be detected easily by India ink and mucicarmine preparations. The distribution of the organism is worldwide. Infection from C neoformans most frequently is acquired from pigeon or other bird droppings.

Cryptococcal infection occurs by inhalation of airborne spores. Organisms initially remain in the lungs, then spread hematogenously to other parts of the body. This organism has predilection for the brain and meninges. Intraocular infection may occur either via direct extension from the CNS or hematogenously. Most intraocular cryptococcal infections have been seen in association with cryptococcal septicemia with severe meningeal infection in the setting of immunocompromise.

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