• Users Online: 190
  • Home
  • Print this page
  • Email this page
Home Current issue Ahead of print Search About us Abstracting and Indexing Editorial board Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 97-100

Herpes zoster ophthalmicus, central retinal artery occlusion, and neovascular glaucoma in an immunocompetent individual

Department of Ophthalmology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Date of Submission22-Mar-2017
Date of Acceptance09-Dec-2017
Date of Web Publication04-Feb-2019

Correspondence Address:
Syed Shoeb Ahmad
Department of Ophthalmology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kota Kinabalu 88586
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jovr.jovr_65_17

Rights and Permissions

Purpose: To report the unusual case of an immunocompetent individual with herpes zoster ophthalmicus who developed central retinal artery occlusion and subsequent neovascular glaucoma.
Case Report: A 40-year-old, immunocompetent patient was diagnosed with herpes zoster ophthalmicus and central retinal artery occlusion on initial presentation. Subsequently, he developed neovascular glaucoma.
Conclusion: There are a few case reports of central retinal artery occlusion developing after varicella zoster virus infection. However, a literature search found no reports of neovascular glaucoma following central retinal artery occlusion secondary to varicella zoster virus infection. The present case report indicates that neovascular glaucoma is a possible complication in such a scenario.

Keywords: Glaucoma; Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus; Human; Neovascular; Herpesvirus3; Retinal Artery Occlusion

How to cite this article:
Ahmad SS, Suan AL, Alexander SM. Herpes zoster ophthalmicus, central retinal artery occlusion, and neovascular glaucoma in an immunocompetent individual. J Ophthalmic Vis Res 2019;14:97-100

How to cite this URL:
Ahmad SS, Suan AL, Alexander SM. Herpes zoster ophthalmicus, central retinal artery occlusion, and neovascular glaucoma in an immunocompetent individual. J Ophthalmic Vis Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Oct 23];14:97-100. Available from: https://www.jovr.org/text.asp?2019/14/1/97/251535

  Introduction Top

Herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO) often follows reactivation of latent varicella zoster virus (VZV) from sensory ganglia and is occasionally associated with ocular posterior segment changes such as thrombophlebitis, arteritis, optic neuropathy, necrotizing retinopathy, and central retinal vascular occlusions.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5]

Central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) is a very rare complication of HZO. In fact, a literature search retrieved only 10 previous cases.[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] In rare cases, CRAO is a predisposing factor for neovascular glaucoma (NVG). Specifically, ocular neovascularization (ONV) rates following CRAO range from 3% to 20%.[9] In contrast, after ischemic central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO), ONV can occur in 40% of patients.[10] HZO associated with CRAO and subsequent NVG has never been reported. The present case is a 40-year-old, immunocompetent man who was diagnosed with HZO, CRAO, and subsequent NVG.

  Case Report Top

A 40-year-old male patient presented with sudden blurring of vision in the right eye that had persisted for 2 days. He reported that discomfort and redness had occurred in the eye, along with periorbital skin rashes over the affected side, almost 2 weeks prior to the visual obscuration. He had no history of systemic illnesses such as diabetes mellitus or bleeding disorders. He had not been in contact with persons with any skin disorders, and he had no history of drug abuse.

On examination, his best corrected visual acuity was hand motion in the right eye and 6/6 in the left eye. Crusted skin lesions were distributed along the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve on the right side, as well as on the tip of the nose (Hutchinson's sign). A corneal dendritic ulcer accompanied by reduced corneal sensation was found in the right eye. The same eye showed a positive relative afferent pupillary defect [Figure 1]a. Fundus examination of this eye revealed a cherry-red spot surrounding pale retinal nerve fiber layers, box-carring over the superotemporal arcade, and attenuation of the retinal arteries [Figure 1]b. Anterior and posterior segment examinations of the left eye revealed no significant abnormalities. The intraocular pressure (IOP) in both eyes was 14 mmHg. The patient's blood pressure was 106/75 mmHg, while his random blood sugar was 7.0 mmol/L.
Figure 1: (a) Anterior segment picture showing dendritic corneal ulcer. (b) Fundus photo showing central retinal artery occlusion.

Click here to view

HZO with CRAO was diagnosed in the right eye. Intermittent ocular massage and breathing into a paper bag were performed. Oral acetazolamide (500 mg) and topical timolol (0.5%) were initiated immediately. The patient was also started on oral acyclovir (800 mg, 5 times daily) as well as acyclovir ophthalmic ointment in the affected eye (5 times daily). The next day, the vision in his right eye improved to counting fingers at 1 foot.

A number of investigations were performed during the patient's first presentation. Laboratory analyses showed a white cell count of 6.4 × 103/μl, hemoglobin of 14.3 g/dL, a platelet count of 219 × 103/μl, and an erythrocyte sedimentation rate of 14 mm/hr. Tests for anti-nuclear antibody, p- and c-antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA), rheumatoid factor, thrombophilia, C-reactive protein, protein-C and protein-S, and human-immune-deficiency virus (HIV) were all negative or within normal limits, as was the venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL) test. The patient's fasting lipid profile and blood sugar were normal. The Mantoux test and chest X-ray showed no abnormalities, ruling out tuberculosis. Electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, and carotid Doppler examination were also within normal limits. The patient's ocular fluids were not analyzed using polymerase chain reaction for VZV because this facility was not available to us.

Subsequently, the patient defaulted with his appointment and came back 1 month later with pain, redness, and further deterioration in his vision. The vision in his right eye had dropped to perception of light, and the IOP was 56 mmHg. There was generalized corneal edema, flare, and cells in the anterior chamber, as well as prominent rubeosis iridis [Figure 2]a. Fundus examination revealed vitreous hemorrhage, as well as hemorrhage overlying the disc and sclerosed arteries [Figure 2]b. The patient's ocular movements were not restricted and no signs of orbital involvement were found. However, the patient now reported pain upon ocular movement, especially superior gaze.
Figure 2: (a) Anterior segment picture showing rubeosis iridis. (b) Fundus photo showing hazy media, sclerosed arteries, and hemorrhage over the disc.

Click here to view

A computerized tomography scan of the orbit was performed, revealing thickening of the right optic nerve upon contrast enhancement. A diagnosis of optic neuritis was made, most likely secondary to the VZV infection and NVG. The patient was started on intravenous acyclovir (10 mg/kg body weight, once daily for 10 days), followed by oral acyclovir (800 mg, 5 times daily for 6 weeks). He was also given intravenous methylprednisolone (250 mg, four times daily for 3 days) followed by oral prednisolone (1 mg/kg body weight, slowly tapered over 3 months). He was started on topical anti-glaucoma medications, and pan-retinal photocoagulation was also performed.

At his last follow-up, nearly 4 months after the first presentation, vision in the affected eye was hand motion. The eye was quiet, with regression of the corneal edema and rubeosis iridis. IOP of the right eye had decreased to 28 mmHg. The optic disc was fully cupped, with resolution of the hemorrhages [Figure 3].
Figure 3: (a) Anterior segment photo showing resolution of rubeosis iridis. (b) Fundus photo showing retinal changes following pan-retinal photocoagulation.

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

VZV, also known as human herpes virus 3, is a highly neurotrophic alpha herpes virus. It exclusively infects humans, inducing vascular and neural inflammation in the involved tissues. The virus also causes pathological vascular remodeling that promotes arterial occlusion, and infection leads to the formation of immune complexes that accumulate on the vascular walls. Together these processes lead to occlusive and thrombotic granulomatous arteritis. In rare cases, these changes occur in the central retinal artery, leading to CRAO.[1],[4],[11],[12] In the present patient, no systemic source for emboli could be detected on echocardiography or carotid Doppler examinations, and no possible cause of systemic vasculitis could be detected on serological testing, suggesting that the VZV infection had caused localized changes in the retinal arteries.

Previous studies have reported the development of ONV as early as 2 years after CRAO diagnosis.[9] However, the mean elapsed time between CRAO and iris neovascularization is 3 months.[13] In the present patient, NVG was detected nearly a month after the acute event.

HZO is treated using anti-viral agents such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir.[3],[11],[14] The present patient was started on oral acyclovir (800 mg, 5 times daily). Despite 3 weeks of treatment, he did not show any signs of resolution. Instead, his clinical condition continued to deteriorate and he developed optic neuritis, so we switched to intravenous acyclovir, which is usually reserved for immunocompromised individuals or for those who cannot take oral medications, although some authors believe that all patients with severe HZO should be started on intravenous acyclovir.[15],[16]

Steroids can be given topically to minimize inflammation and the delayed ocular complications of stromal keratitis, uveitis, episcleritis, and scleritis. Systemic steroids (oral prednisolone or intravenous methylprednisolone) are reserved for cases of resistant, acute-phase pain, debilitating rash, facial palsy or cranial polyneuritis, and severe inflammatory ocular complications.[3],[12],[14] In the present patient, the development of optic neuritis and NVG were the indications for intravenous methylprednisolone.

Generally, the management of NVG consists of two elements: (1) control of intra-ocular pressure and (2) reduction in the ischemic drive towards ONV.[17] In the present patient, the IOP was controlled pharmacologically, while the drive towards ONV was managed using pan-retinal photocoagulation.

CRAO rarely develops after VZV infection, and a literature search for NVG following CRAO secondary to VZV infection revealed no such case reports. The present case demonstrated that immunocompetent individuals can be at risk of these events and that they must be followed up closely to ensure such situations are managed appropriately.

Declaration of Patient Consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Lisegang TJ. Herpes zoster ophthalmicus: Natural history, risk factors, clinical presentation and morbidity. Ophthalmology 2008;115:S3-S12.  Back to cited text no. 1
Kahloun R, Attia S, Jelliti B, Attia AZ, Khochtali S, Yahia SB. Ocular involvement and visual outcome of herpes zoster ophthalmicus: Review of 45 patients from Tunisia, North Africa. J Ophthalmic Inflamm Infect 2014;4:25.  Back to cited text no. 2
Gnann JW Jr, Whitley RJ. Clinical practice. Herpes zoster. N Engl J Med 2002;347:340-346.  Back to cited text no. 3
Ahn M, Cho NC. Central retinal artery occlusion in herpes zoster ophthalmicus. J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus 2002;39:123-124.  Back to cited text no. 4
Gupta N, Sachdev R, Sinha R, Titiyal JS, Tandon R. Herpes zoster ophthalmicus: Disease spectrum in young adults. Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol 2011;18:178-182.  Back to cited text no. 5
Camuglia JE, Beltz JE, Khurana K, Hall AJH. An unusual cause of visual loss after herpes zoster ophthalmicus: A case report. Cases J 2010;3:17.  Back to cited text no. 6
Scharf Y, Kraus E, Zonis S. Optic neuropathy and central retinal artery occlusion in a case of herpes zoster ophthalmicus. Ann Ophthalmol 1987;19;77-78.  Back to cited text no. 7
Atmaca LS, Ozmert E. Optic neuropathy and central retinal artery occlusion in a patient with herpes zoster ophthalmicus. Ann Ophthalmol 1992;24:50-53.  Back to cited text no. 8
Mason JO 3rd, Patel SA, Feist RA, Albert MA Jr, Huisingh C, McGwin G Jr, et al. Ocular neovascularization in eyes with a central retinal artery occlusion or a branch retinal artery occlusion. Clin Ophthalmol 2015;9:995-1000.  Back to cited text no. 9
Central Vein Occlusion Study Group. Natural history and clinical management of central retinal vein occlusion. Arch Ophthalmol 1997;115:486-491.  Back to cited text no. 10
Shaikh S, Ta CN. Evaluation and management of herpes zoster ophthalmicus. Ann Fam Physician 2002;66:1723-1730.  Back to cited text no. 11
Shah J, Poonawala H, Keay SK, Serulle Y, Steven A, Gandhi D, et al. Varicella-zoster virus vasculopathy: A case report demonstrating vasculitis using black-blood MRI. J Neurol Neurophysiol 2015;6:1000342.  Back to cited text no. 12
Jung YH, Ahn SJ, Hong J-H, Park KH, Han MK, Jung C, et al. Incidence and clinical features of neovascularization of the iris following acute central retinal artery occlusion. Korean J Ophthalmol 2016;30:352-359.  Back to cited text no. 13
Rousseau A, Bourier T, Colin J, Labetoulle M. Herpes zoster ophthalmicus- diagnosis and management. US Ophthalmic Rev 2013;6:119-124.  Back to cited text no. 14
Balfour HH Jr, Bean B, Laskin OL, Ambinder RF, Meyers JD, Wade JC, et al. Acyclovir halts progression of herpes zoster in immunocompromised patients. N Engl J Med 1983;308:1448-1453.  Back to cited text no. 15
Balfour HH Jr. Varicella zoster virus infections in immunocompromised hosts. A review of the natural history and management. Am J Med 1988;85:68-73.  Back to cited text no. 16
Olmos LC, Lee RK. Medical and surgical treatment of neovascular glaucoma. Int Ophthalmol Clin 2011;51:27-36.  Back to cited text no. 17


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]


Similar in PUBMED
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Case Report
Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded110    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal