A recent study has thrown up a possible link between prophylactic anti-viral herpes treatments and recurring ocular disorders provoked by the herpes virus.
Keith Baratz M.D and his colleagues at the Mayo clinics of Rochester, MN and Jacksonville, FL conducted a retrospective analysis of patients covering a 32 year period and found that herpes patients who were not taking prophylactic anti-virals had a much higher incidence of recurring eye diseases, including conjunctivitis, blepharitis, stromal keratitis and epithelial keratitis.
Noting that herpes is a common cause of corneal disease, the authors of the report argue that their findings: “suggest that oral antiviral prophylaxis should be considered for patients with frequent recurrences of corneal disease.”
Researchers looked at the medical records of 394 patients suffering from herpes ocular infection. Of these, 175 had been prescribed anti-viral therapy for an average timespan of 2.8 years.
They found those who had taken antivirals to be:
9.4 times more likely to experience a recurrence of epithelial keratitis
8.4 times more likely to have a recurrence of stromal keratitis
34.5 times more likely to have a recurrence of conjunctivitis or blepharitis.
Baratz and colleagues caution that because the study was retrospective, laboratory confirmation of herpes infection was not available in all cases and some patients may have received treatment outside the area, the figures may not be wholly reliable.
They suggest that “oral antiviral prophylaxis should be considered for patients with frequent recurrences of corneal disease”, noting that herpes simplex is the leading infectious cause of corneal blindness in developed nations.