Herpes simplex virus type 2 acute retinal necrosis in an immunocompetent patient

Eur J Ophthalmol. 2003 Jan-Feb;13(1):99-102. doi: 10.1177/112067210301300118.


Purpose: To report a case of acute retinal necrosis caused by herpes simplex virus 2 in an otherwise healthy patient.

Case report: A 45-year-old man presented with one month's history of decreased vision in the right eye. He had previously received a course of intravenous gancyclovir because of a clinical suspicion of cytomegalovirus retinitis. The patient's ocular history was remarkable for a similar episode in the left eye thirty years earlier, resulting in important visual impairment. System and laboratory investigations were unremarkable. Ocular examination showed severe anterior granulomatous uveitis, vitreous haze, areas of necrosis and retinal exudates. The anterior chamber tap disclosed the presence of HSV type 2, and oral steroids and acyclovir were instituted. Two weeks after the patient had been discharged, a retinal detachment occurred in the right eye, necessitating surgical repair. The presence of HSV type 2 was confirmed in the vitreous. Visual acuity recovered completely after surgery and the patient was placed on a maintenance dose of oral acyclovir.

Conclusions: HSV type 2 is a rare cause of acute retinal necrosis in healthy patients. Bilateral involvement can occur in the fellow eye, even with a long delay. Acute retinal necrosis is a severe ocular inflammatory syndrome associated with a very poor visual outcome. It is caused by VZV, HSV type 1 and, less commonly, by HSV type 2. The disease can affect healthy patients and cause bilateral involvement in the fellow eye, even with a long delay.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Chamber / virology
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Eye Infections, Viral* / drug therapy
  • Eye Infections, Viral* / virology
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Ganciclovir / therapeutic use
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Herpes Simplex* / drug therapy
  • Herpes Simplex* / virology
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Retinal Detachment / surgery
  • Retinal Detachment / virology
  • Retinal Necrosis Syndrome, Acute / virology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity
  • Vitreous Body / virology


  • Antiviral Agents
  • DNA, Viral
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Prednisolone
  • Ganciclovir