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Incidence Rate of Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus A Retrospective Cohort Study from 1994 through 2018



To analyze the incidence rate (IR) of herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO) and differences by age, gender, race, and region from 1994 through 2018.


Retrospective, observational cohort study.


Patients with a new International Classification of Diseases, Ninth or Tenth Edition, codes for herpes zoster (HZ) and HZO from January 1, 1994, through December 31, 2018, in the OptumLabs Data Warehouse (OptumLabs, Cambridge, MA).


OptumLabs Data Warehouse, a longitudinal, real-world data asset with de-identified administrative claims and electronic health record data, was used to identify enrollees with continuous enrollment in the database for 365 days or more. Patients with no history of HZ or HZO and a new code for HZ and HZO were counted as incident cases. The IR of HZO was calculated by year, 10-year age groups, gender, race, and region.

Main outcome measures

Differences in IR from 1994 through 2018 by 10-year age groups and gender.


From 1994 through 2018, 633 474 cases of HZ were reported, with 49 745 (7.9%) having HZO. The incidence of HZO increased from 1994 through 2018 by an estimated 1.1 cases per 100 000 person-years annually (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0-1.3; P < 0.001). The estimated relative increase was 3.6% annually (95% CI, 3.0%-4.1%). HZO IR increased in all ages over 10 years until 2007, then began declining in individuals younger than 21 and older than 60, stabilizing in individuals 21 to 30 years old, and increasing more slowly among individuals 31 to 60 years old. Men showed an HZO incidence rate ratio (IRR) of 0.74 compared with women. Compared with white patients, the IRRs were 0.70, 0.75, and 0.64 for Asians, black patients, and Hispanics, respectively.


The incidence of HZO has increased 3.6% per year from 1994 to 2018 in the United States. Since 2008, HZO incidence declined in individuals younger than 21 years and older than 60 years while increasing at a lower rate in middle-aged adults. Given the continued increase, greater efforts should be made to vaccinate eligible adults 50 years of age and older. More research on earlier vaccination is warranted.

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