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Uveitis incidence increases following herpes zoster

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – An episode of herpes zoster is associated with an increased risk of anterior uveitis in the following year, according to a Taiwanese report this month in Archives of Ophthalmology.

“We suggest that patient eye condition be evaluated following diagnosis with HZ (herpes zoster),” advise Dr. Herng-Ching Lin, at Taipei Medical University, and colleagues.

They note that various systemic diseases have been associated with uveitis but few studies have looked at the connection with herpes zoster. For their current investigation, the team identified 314,405 patients diagnosed with herpes zoster in Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database and compared them to 943,215 randomly selected controls without shingles.

During a one-year follow-up, 908 of the zoster patients (0.3%) and 1,607 in the comparison group (0.2%) were diagnosed with anterior uveitis, the investigators found.

After adjusting for age, sex, location, and conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, tuberculosis or HIV, the hazard ratio for anterior uveitis was 1.67 for patients with herpes zoster compared to controls (p<0.001). With herpes zoster ophthalmicus, the hazard ratio was 13.06, Dr. Lin and colleagues report.

“These findings suggest that a patient’s intraocular condition should be closely observed in the year following diagnosis with HZ,” they conclude.

Noting that most residents of Taiwan are Chinese, they add: “We hope similar studies elsewhere in the world will determine whether our data can be replicated and used to establish guidelines on the extent to which patients with HZ should be evaluated for anterior uveitis.”


Arch Ophthalmol 2012;130:451-455.