Herpes zoster ophthalmicus: acute keratitis

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Herpes zoster is a common condition, and involvement of the trigeminal nerve results in herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO). Acute keratitis is one of the most common of these ocular complications associated with HZO. The findings associated with and the management of acute zoster keratitis will be reviewed.

Recent findings

The incidence rate of herpes zoster has been on the rise over the past several decades. At the same time, the average patient age at presentation is declining with similar trends also seen in HZO. The cause of these changes has yet to be determined. Our understanding of corneal involvement in HZO continues to evolve with new imaging demonstrating viral particles within keratocytes in a case of zoster stromal keratitis. New medications such as topical ganciclovir are also helping to better manage acute zoster keratitis that is unresponsive to oral antiviral therapy.

Summary

Acute zoster keratitis can lead to permanent vision loss. Early diagnosis and management may help reduce these potentially devastating complications. Oral and topical antiviral medications can play a role in managing the acute disease, and herpes zoster vaccinations are important for prevention of disease. Further research must be done to establish standards for treatment of anterior segment complications from herpes zoster.

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