What is HZO? – Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

When someone has HZO, it means that they have Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus. This virus is as a result of the Varicella-zoster virus which causes the chicken-pox. HZO involves the eye and also the skin surrounding the eye. So people that have had the Herpes Zoster Virus, are likely to have a case of HZO.

Symptoms of HZO are a rash with blisters. The blisters usually appear on the forehead, on either side of the face, and also surrounds the eye area. Your eye will also probably swell, and you will have a lot of pain in the affected eye. Facial pain is often not uncommon. Fever, and unwellness is very much present, and the person who has this eye illness is very unwell with many symptoms. One of the things in a person with HZO that is hard to tolerate is strong lights.

To diagnose your problem, the ophthalmologist will pretty much be able to tell it right away. But still, testing will be done on it. One of the test that your eye specialist might want to conduct is a Tzanck Smear and Wright Stain. This is where cells are taken from the lesions and examined by the laboratory.

This medical problem can cause other complications of the eyes such as scarring of the cornea, glaucoma, cataracts, and uveitis (cornea inflammation) that doesn’t go away.

Treating this problem involves several different approaches. Acyclovir is an anti-viral drug that will usually be given, along with eye drops which are usually atropine or scopolamine. Corticosteroids may also need to be given in order to avoid the problem of postherpetic neuralgia. The eye can be painful even after you have had treatment for several days. It sometimes takes quite a while (weeks maybe) until the pain subsides even though the eye appears much better.

Your eye doctor will need to check your eyes often for intraocular pressure to make certain it doesn’t rise extremely high. High intraocular pressure can easily damage the optic nerves, so this is why monitoring the eyes for pressure is of the utmost importance.

The consequence of complications with this eye problem can be very high. HSV can cause acute retinal necrosis, which causes blurry vision and pain. Detachment of the retina can also occur which is extremely serious along with necrosis that is virus induced.

This eye disease can also become recurring or chronic. It is at this point that treatments will need to be permanent.

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