Herpes simplex & how it affects the eyes
Herpes simplex is an infection or virus that can infect your skin, nerves and tissue; your eyes can be affected too as this virus can irritate them and cause blurry vision.
Herpes simplex virus comes in two types:
Type I is most common. It is highly contagious or easily spread from person to person. It often infects the face, causing cold sores or fever blisters.
Type II is a more severe case of herpes that spreads by sexual contact, infecting a person’s genitals.
Eye Words to Know
Conjunctiva: transparent tissue that covers the white part of your eye and inner eyelids.
Cornea: the window of the front of your eye which is clear and meant to focus light into your eye.
How herpes simplex affects the eyes
Herpes simplex can infect both the conjunctiva and the cornea.
Herpes keratitis is the infection usually begins on the outer layer of the cornea. The infected eye will turn red and become both sore and sensitive to light. The infection can spread deeper, causing swelling within the eye, potentially scarring the cornea. Sometimes, ulcers form on the cornea, these are basically open sores that can be very difficult to heal. All of these issues can impact your vision, making it blurry or hazy.
Once you’ve had herpes simplex, the virus stays in your body. The virus can be inactive or dormant until something causes it to arise again, symptoms like cold sores and fever blisters can come back. This can anytime after your first herpes case: weeks, months, or even years after.
Here are some causes as to why it may come back and treatments for this condition:
- sun exposure
- high fevers
- injuries or surgeries
- certain medications
For a mild infection, you may be prescribed eye drops or pills. These can help your symptoms disappear quicker or your doctor may scrape infected cells from your cornea to improve your vision.
For severe infection or a scarred cornea, you may need a corneal transplant.
What are herpes simplex eye disease symptoms?
Herpes simplex eye disease can include the following symptoms:
- eye pain, redness, or swelling
- eye irritation
- watery eyes
- sensitivity to bright light
- blurry vision
How is herpes simplex eye disease treated?
Herpes are incurable. Once the virus enters your body, you cannot remove it. However, herpes simplex eye disease treatment is essential to prevent serious eye problems and potential vision loss.
Keeping herpes simplex eye disease from coming back:
If you have an active blister, do not touch your eyes and wash your hands often. Follow doctor’s medical instructions for eye care and prescriptions. Ask your opthamologist if you can wear your contact lenses, you may be told not to if the issue is recurring.
Herpes simplex virus can infect your skin, nerves and tissue; it may also infect your eyes.
The virus cannot be cured, but can and must be treated promptly. You may be prescribed eye drops or pills, diseased cells may be scraped from your cornea, or in severe cases, you may need a corneal transplant.
Your opthamologist is committed to protecting your sight, if you have any questions contact your doctor.