[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
February 1993

Detection of Varicella-Zoster Virus DNA in Disciform Keratitis Using Polymerase Chain Reaction

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC; Iowa City, Iowa; Rochester, Minn

Arch Ophthalmol. 1993;111(2):167-168. doi:10.1001/archopht.1993.01090020021010

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Disciform keratitis is a well-known sequela of herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO) and varicella.1 The clinical course can persist for many years with longterm dependence on low-dose topical steroids to suppress recurrent inflammation. The mechanism for disciform keratitis development is not known but is thought to be a delayed hypersensitivity reaction to varicella-zoster virus (VZV) antigen in the cornea. Using the polymerase chain reaction, we have demonstrated the presence of VZV DNA in the cornea of a patient who underwent penetrating keratoplasty 2 years following development of HZO.

Report of a Case.  —A 47-year-old woman was afflicted with HZO in V-1 and V-2 dermatomes on the left side in October 1989. Zoster keratouveitis resulted in secondary, open angle glaucoma. The patient presented in February 1991 with disciform keratitis and Streptococcus viridans corneal ulceration that was successfully treated with topical vancomycin (50 mg/mL) and topical penicillin G (100000 U/mL) (Fig 1).

Wilhelmus KR, Hamill MB, Jones DB.  Varicella disciform stromal keratitis . Am J Ophthalmol . 1991;111:575-580.
Mahalingam R, Wellish M, Wolf W, et al.  Latent varicella-zoster viral DNA in human trigeminal and thoracic ganglia . N Engl J Med . 1990;323:627-631.Article
Rong B, Pavan-Langston D, Weng Q, Martinez R, Cherry J, Dunkel E.  Detection of herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase and latency-associated transcript gene sequences in human herpetic corneas by polymerase chain reaction amplification . Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci . 1991;32:1808-1815.