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Open Access Open Badges Case Report

An unusual cause of visual loss after Herpes zoster ophthalmicus: a case report

Jayne E Camuglia, Jacqueline E Beltz, Kavita Khurana and Anthony JH Hall*

Author Affiliations

Department of Ophthalmology, The Alfred Hospital, Commercial Road, Prahran, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia

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Cases Journal 2010, 3:17  doi:10.1186/1757-1626-3-17

Published: 12 January 2010



The vascular complications of herpes zoster are well recognised, however, there are few reports of central retinal artery occlusion. Central retinal artery occlusion following herpes zoster ophthalmicus is poorly recognised. This is likely due to the difficulties in obtaining tissue for histopathology to establish causality. We report a case of central retinal artery occlusion and complete internal carotid artery occlusion following herpes zoster ophthalmicus.

Case presentation

A 44 year old Caucasian female presented with sudden painless loss of vision in her right eye on a background of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and right sided herpes zoster ophthalmicus. She was initially treated with steroids and antivirals for an underlying presumed vasculitic cause, but review at 24 hours demonstrated a right central retinal artery occlusion. Embolic screen identified complete occlusion of the right internal carotid artery. She was treated with oral antiviral medication for three weeks but had no visual recovery.


This case highlights an uncommon cause of acute visual loss. We propose that the underlying small and large vessel occlusion in this patient was due to herpes zoster related vasculopathy. A review of the literature is presented to trace the historical perspective of herpes zoster related vasculopathy.