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Early and late stage ocular complications of herpes zoster ophthalmicus in rural South Africa.

Trop. Med. Int. Health 2016, vol. 21, issue 3

OBJECTIVES

To describe the spectrum of ocular complications of herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO) in rural South Africa.

METHODS

Patients presenting with visual complaints and active or healed HZO at the ophthalmology outpatient department of three hospitals in rural South Africa were included in this study. Demographic and clinical data were collected and HIV status was determined for all participants.

RESULTS

48 patients were included and 81% were HIV-infected. Poor vision was reported by 94% of patients, painful eye by 79% and photophobia by 63%. A diverse spectrum of ocular complications was observed with corneal inflammation and opacification in 77% followed by anterior uveitis in 65%. The majority (65%) presented with late stage ocular complications associated with irreversible loss of vision whereas early stage complications, such as punctate epithelial keratitis and anterior uveitis, were less common. Blindness of the affected eye was observed in 68% of patients with late stage complications. There was a considerable delay between onset of symptoms and first presentation to the ophthalmology outpatient department (median time 35 days; range 1-2500 days) and longer delay was associated with late stage ocular complications (p = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS

HZO patients present with relatively late stage ocular complications and blindness among these patients is common. The delayed presentation to the ophthalmology outpatient department of hospitals in our rural setting is of concern and efforts to improve ocular outcomes of HZO are urgently needed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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