Background: Zoster ophthalmicus (ZO) is a common disease, in particular in elderly and immunocompromised patients. In addition to the characteristic dermal lesions and to the postherpetic neuralgia, the clinical appearance may include very different forms of eye involvement.
Methods: This article reviews the clinical features of ZO as well as the typical eye complications and therapy.
Results: 50 % of ZO patients have eye involvement. The acute phase of ZO is characterised by lid exanthema, conjunctivitis and epithelial keratitis (up to 65 %). In the late phase, stromal keratitis (up to 25 %), anterior uveitis (up to 50 %), and acute retinal necrosis (ARN) may occur. Typical complications are eyelid malposition, neurotrophic keratopathy (up to 25 %) and glaucoma. The diagnosis is usually based on the characteristic dermal lesions. In atypical cases, immunohistochemistry and PCR are tools for virus detection. All ZO patients should immediately receive systemic antiviral therapy. Corticosteroid therapy is essential for the management of the concomitant immune reaction that is relevant for the long-term prognosis, especially in stromal keratitis, uveitis, scleritis and ARN.
Conclusions: All patients should receive systemic antiviral treatment to avoid complications and visual impairment. With appropriate medical and surgical therapy the prognosis is usually good. Postherpetic neuralgia is often the major issue in the later course. For the prevention of ZO and its complications, a vaccination is useful.