Background: To determine the incidence of acute retinal necrosis (ARN) in the United Kingdom and to describe the demographics, management, and visual outcome in these patients.
Methods: This was a prospective study carried out by the British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit (BOSU) between September 2007 and October 2008. Initial and 6-month questionnaires were sent to UK ophthalmologists who reported cases of ARN via the monthly BOSU report card system.
Results: In all, 45 confirmed cases (52 eyes) of ARN were reported in the 14-month study period, giving a minimum incidence of 0.63 cases per million population per year. There were 20 females and 25 males. Age ranged from 10 to 94 years. Eight patients had a history of herpetic CNS disease. Aqueous sampling was carried out in 13 patients, vitreous in 27, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in 4. Varicella-zoster virus followed by herpes simplex were the most common causative agents. Treatment in 76% of the cases was with intravenous antivirals; however, 24% received only oral antivirals. In all, 47% of patients had intravitreal antiviral therapy. Visual outcome at 6 months was <6/60 in 48% of the affected eyes.
Conclusion: The minimum incidence of ARN in the UK is 0.63 cases per million. Patients with a history of herpetic CNS disease should be warned to immediately report any visual symptoms. There is increased use of oral and intravitreal antivirals in initial treatment.