• EurekAlert
    Cataract/Anterior Segment, Cornea/External Disease

    The National Eye Institute has pledged $15 million to fund a 5-year, multicenter clinical trial evaluating new treatment protocols for herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO).

    The study, titled the Zoster Eye Disease Study (ZEDS), will assess the benefit of long-term, low-dose valacyclovir for management of HZO and prevention of complications. The paradigm is modeled after the successful oral acyclovir protocol established by the Herpetic Eye Disease Study (HEDS) II for prevention of recurrent HSV eye infections. ZEDS will enroll 1,050 patients from 60 centers who will be randomly assigned masked valacyclovir or placebo.

    Dr. Elisabeth J. Cohen, professor of ophthalmology at NYU Langone Medical Center, will serve as principal investigator on the study. Dr. Cohen focused her research on finding novel treatments for HZO after experiencing the disease herself in 2008. She has also led national efforts to promote the shingles vaccine in older adults.

    "We already know that longer-term suppressive treatment has greatly improved outcomes for herpes simplex eye disease, which shares key similarities to herpes zoster eye disease," says Dr. Cohen. "Our goal is to help patients preserve their vision and reduce the chronic pain that is so often one of the complications of the disease in older persons."