To describe a patient with recurrent acute retinal necrosis (ARN), her treatment, and propose a possible pathophysiologic mechanism.
A 4-year-old girl presented elsewhere with bilateral ARN, was treated, but developed a retinal detachment in the left eye that failed vitrectomy surgery. She was referred 10 years later with recurrent ARN. The infection was difficult to get under control, but eventually responded to intravenous acyclovir and foscarnet. She was given laser photocoagulation. She was placed on oral valacyclovir prophylaxis and was disease-free for 10 years at which point she decided to go to South America on vacation and stop her valacyclovir. Within a few days she developed a recurrence of ARN and flew back for treatment. She had discrete areas of retinal necrosis, vasculitis, and the laser photocoagulation lesions seemed to be ringed by a retinal change suggestive of retinitis. She responded to antiviral treatment, but developed a retinal detachment that was successfully treated. Her visual acuity was 20/20 six years later, and she was using antiviral prophylaxis.
Recurrent ARN can respond to aggressive treatment. Chorioretinal scars, such as from photocoagulation, may be potential sites of viral invasion during recurrences. Antiviral prophylaxis may be indicated for at-risk patients.