Herpes Simplex Eye Infection

What is Herpes Simplex Eye Infection;

Herpes simplex is a disease caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Type 1 HSV often produces painful, fluid-filled blisters on the skin or other tissues. Cold sores and fever blisters are caused by this form of HSV.
Another herpes simplex virus, type 2 HSV, mainly affects the genital area. It is usually transmitted during sexual intercourse. All of the following information relates to type 1 HSV.

HSV is very common. About 90% of adults have the infection. Most people have their first infection during childhood or early adolescence.

HSV infections that affect your skin or eyes can be triggered by:

  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Fever
  • A reaction to certain foods or medicines
  • Eye injury
  • Sometimes the cause of infections is unknown.

In some people, HSV eye infections recur often. If not treated, repeated infections can cause serious damage to the cornea (the clear dome on the front of the eye).

Symptoms of ocular HSV infections are:

  • Blisters on or near the eyelid
  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Tearing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • HSV often affects only one eye.

Herpes Simplex eye infections can be difficult to diagnose. They can cause the same symptoms with allergies, conjunctivitis, other viruses and reactions to certain medications.

Your ophthalmologist will examine your skin and eyes and ask about your medical history. They may send part of the fluid from the blisters to a laboratory for analysis.

Sometimes Herpes Simplex eye infections subside without any treatment. Other times doctors will prescribe medications in the form of eye drops, ointments or an oral pill for the virus (acyclovir).

A type of herpes simplex destroys cells in the eyes. For this condition doctors may recommend that you take an additional medicine (corticosteroids) to prevent serious problems. However, corticosteroids should not be taken for other forms of HSV. Severe cases may cause scarring and loss of vision, which may require surgery. The specialist ophthalmologist may recommend keratoplasty (corneal transplantation) if the cornea has undergone severe scarring.

After the first infection, HSV may not cause any problems for months or years. Then sores may reappear when your immune system is weakened by disease or anxiety. Sometimes HSV is active but you not have any blisters.
The effects of HSV vary greatly from person to person. Your symptoms may subside in a few days or weeks. You may only have one episode after the initial infection in childhood. However, you may have a relapse every time your immune system is weakened or for unknown reasons.

Because the herpes simplex virus type 1 is so common, you probably can’t prevent your first infection. Many cases are so mild that you may not know that you have been exposed to HSV. Later in life, you may be able to prevent infections by maintaining overall good health and keeping the stress in your life at a moderate level.

Herpes simplex usually does not spread to the other eye, and the spread of the virus to another person is unlikely. If you have an extremely weak immune system, the virus can spread to other parts of your body, such as the retina or the brain, but not to another person.

Similar Medical Services