Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus: A Devastating Disease Coming Back with Vengeance or Finding Its Nemesis?


Herpes zoster ophthalmicus is a frequent, painful, and debilitating condition caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus alongside the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve. Twenty-five percent of adults will develop the disease during their lifetime with the risk increasing to one in two over the age of 50. Herpes zoster ophthalmicus presents with a plethora of ocular manifestations ranging from the characteristic rash in the distribution of the ophthalmic branch of the fifth cranial nerve to more severe keratouveitis, disciform keratitis, and even retinal necrosis. Up to 20% of affected patients develop post-herpetic neuralgia which can persist for years after the acute episode, resulting in potentially devastating consequences for the patient’s social, financial, and professional circumstances, as well as their quality of life and daily activities. Shingles prevention studies indicated that the herpes zoster vaccine markedly reduces the burden of the disease, as well as the incidence of both infection and post-herpetic neuralgia. Here we review the vaccinations available for herpes zoster, the reasons behind their limited adoption so far, as well as the future perspectives and challenges associated with this debilitating disease in the era of herpes zoster vaccination and coronavirus disease pandemic.


Eye, Herpes Zoster, Immunity, Vaccine

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