A conjunctival mass in a patient with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can have a long differential diagnosis, ranging from opportunistic infections to malignant neoplasms. Given that patients in this population may have atypical presentations, the benefit of invasive biopsy often outweighs surgical risk and can help guide treatment. We report 2 cases of patients referred to our ocular oncology services with herpetic conjunctivitis that masqueraded as conjunctival tumors.
A man in his early 50s with a history of herpes simplex virus (HSV) keratouveitis presented with increasing left eye pain for 2 months. His medical history was significant for HIV (CD4 lymphocyte count, 525/μL [to convert to ×109 per liter, multiply by 0.001]; viral load undetectable) and hepatitis C. On examination, a fleshy yellow conjunctival lesion with subconjunctival hemorrhage was noted (Figure 1A), with a follicular reaction on the tarsal conjunctiva. Given the patient’s complex medical history and presentation, an incisional biopsy was performed. Intraoperatively, the lesion was noted to be gelatinous, with a keratinized superficial layer firmly adherent to the conjunctiva.