Herpes Simplex Keratitis

What Is Herpes Simplex Keratitis?

Herpes simplex keratitis is an eye infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), the same virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes. This infection specifically affects the cornea, the clear front layer of the eye, and can lead to pain, redness, and possibly, if untreated, to impaired vision or blindness. It’s one of the most common causes of corneal blindness in developed countries.

Symptoms of Herpes Simplex Keratitis:

Symptoms of herpes simplex keratitis can vary but commonly include:

  • Pain and redness in the eye
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Blurred vision
  • Tearing or watery discharge from the eye
  • A feeling of something being in the eye
  • The area around the cornea may look white or grayish due to inflammation

Treatment for Herpes Simplex Keratitis:

Treatment aims to eliminate the virus and reduce symptoms. Options include:

  • Antiviral Eye Drops: These are the most common treatment and can help control the virus.
  • Antiviral Oral Medications: In some cases, oral antiviral medications are prescribed, especially for severe infections or for people with weakened immune systems.
  • Corneal Debridement: Removing affected corneal cells may be necessary in some cases.

Early treatment is crucial to prevent complications, including corneal scarring and vision loss.

Prevention of Herpes Simplex Keratitis:

Preventive measures are challenging as HSV is quite common and can be reactivated. However, you can reduce the risk of an outbreak by:

  • Avoiding known triggers, such as stress, illness, or sun exposure, which can reactivate the virus.
  • Using good hygiene practices, especially if you have HSV. Avoid touching your eyes after touching a cold sore.
  • Discussing preventive antiviral therapy with your doctor if you have frequent HSV outbreaks.

To learn more about herpes simplex keratitis, its causes, diagnosis, and surgical options, visit your optometrist.

Please note that this information is provided for informational purposes only and should not substitute professional medical advice. If you suspect you have herpes simplex keratitis or any eye-related concerns, it is important to consult with an eye care professional for a proper evaluation and personalized recommendations.