Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus

Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus usually manifests itself as a unilateral, painful, vesicular skin rash in the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve.

It usually appears in older people and it is due to the reactivation of the dormant Varicella Zoster Virus. Predisposing factors are older age (over 60 years) and reduced immunity due to the use of immunosuppressive drugs, chronic diseases, e.g. Diabetes mellitus, AIDS, psychological stress, etc.

Symptoms that present prior to the rush, are headache, fever and fatigue. Ophthalmological symptoms include photophobia, lacrimation, eyelid edema, eye redness, impaired vision and pain. The diagnosis is easy when there is the typical skin rash. Ocular complications include conjunctivitis, keratitis, anterior uveitis, increased intra-ocular pressure and rarely scleritis, acute retinal necrosis, optic neuritis.

Treatment includes antiviral drugs: tabl acyclovir 800mg five times per day or tabl valacyclovir 1000mg three times a day for 7-10 days, local corticosteroids in keratitis or uveitis, local glaucoma medications in elevated intra-ocular pressure and systemic analgesics.

The prognosis is usually good while in rare cases the patient may experience recurrent or chronic inflammation of the anterior segment of the eye: keratitis, uveitis, secondary glaucoma, cataract.

Finally, keep in mind: Your ophthalmologist is the best source for responsible information on issues that are related to the health of your eyes. Under no circumstances is the information available on our website intended to replace your doctor. Always contact your doctor for information.