BACKGROUND: In visceral leishmaniasis (VL), retinal changes have previously been noted but not described in detail and their clinical and pathological significance are unknown. A prospective observational study was undertaken in Mymensingh, Bangladesh aiming to describe in detail visible changes in the retina in unselected patients with VL. METHODS: Patients underwent assessment of visual function, indirect and direct ophthalmoscopy and portable retinal photography. The photographs were assessed by masked observers including assessment for vessel tortuosity using a semi-automated system. RESULTS: 30 patients with VL were enrolled, of whom 6 (20%) had abnormalities. These included 5 with focal retinal whitening, 2 with cotton wool spots, 2 with haemorrhages, as well as increased vessel tortuosity. Visual function was preserved. CONCLUSIONS: These changes suggest a previously unrecognized retinal vasculopathy. An inflammatory aetiology is plausible such as a subclinical retinal vasculitis, possibly with altered local microvascular autoregulation, and warrants further investigation.