Date: 05 Oct 2012

Herpes simplex virus type 2 mediated acute retinal necrosis in a pediatric population: case series and review

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We report 15 eyes with herpes simples virus type 2 (HSV-2) mediated acute retinal necrosis (ARN) in order to better characterize pathogenesis, clinical course, diagnosis, and outcomes of the disease.


Retrospective observational case series of 14 patients (15 eyes) all aged 21 years or younger with acute retinal necrosis resulting from HSV-2 and examined between 1995 and 2009. Patients were diagnosed by various techniques, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of aqueous, vitreous, and serum, antibody determination of serum and intraocular fluids, fundoscopic exam, a therapeutic trial of antivirals active against HSV-2, or a combination thereof.


Mean age of presentation was 11.7 years (range, newborn to 21.0 years) with a standard deviation of 7.0 years. Mean initial vision was 20/200 (median, 20/400; range, 20/20 to LP). Eleven patients (73.3 %) had received oral, injectable, or topical corticosteroids, and 14 (93.3 %) had received antiviral therapy. All patients were diagnosed based on evaluation of intraocular fluids and tissue by antibody determinations, culture, PCR, histopathologic examination, or a combination thereof. Mean final visual acuity was 20/400 (median, CF; range, 20/25 to LP) with worsened visual acuity in five eyes (33.3 %). Anatomically, 14 of 15 eyes had healed or improved retinal appearance.


In a pediatric population with acute retinal necrosis, HSV-2 should be considered as the prime candidate virus. Diagnosis of HSV-2 acute retinal necrosis is accomplished mainly by PCR of ocular specimens. Prompt diagnosis may lead to appropriate anti-viral therapy.

Institutional review board approval was obtained from the Schools of Medicine of both the University of Miami and Stanford University.