All You Need To know About “Eye Herpes”- A Viral Eye Infection

eye herpes

Eye Herpes also is known as “Ocular Herpes”. And it is a viral infection of the eye, which is caused by HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus). The utmost common type of eye herpes is known as “epithelial keratitis”. This affects the cornea. This kind of viral infection in its initial stages, can cause:-

  • Pain in your eyes.
  • A sensation of inflammation in your eyes.
  • Your eye can start to become red.
  • The corneal surface of your eye can become damaged.

If the HSV infection is still persisting in the central layers of your cornea, then there can be significant damage. This kind of damage can further result in the “loss of your vision”.

But there is good news amid all this chaos.

Because if the eye herpes is of mild and severe level then, both of them are treatable with antiviral medicines only.

What are the symptoms of “Eye Herpes”?

  • You may start to experience moderate to severe pain in your eyes.
  • You may start experiencing extreme sensitivity to light.
  • Your vision may become blurred in a gradual manner.
  • There may be tearing in the corneal section of the eye.
  • The release of mucus is a possibility.
  • There may be redness and inflammation of the eyelids in the initial stages of the infection.

Although it has been found that, herpes mostly affects one eye.

What are the types of “Eye Herpes”?

As mentioned before, that the most basic type of eye herpes is “epithelial keratitis”. In this case, the virus becomes active in the thin and external layer of the cornea. This layer is known by the name of the epithelium.

But that’s not the only case. As eye herpes can also start to affect deeper layers of the cornea (Stroma). The formal name for this case is ‘Stromal keratitis”. And this is a more serious condition than the latter type because of the continuous and repeated outbreaks. This condition has the potential to cause complete vision loss.

What Are The Causes Of This Condition?

According to a recent study, at least 90% suffer from HSV, before they reach the age of 50. So in the case of “Eye Herpes”, HSV-1 starts to infect the following eye parts:-

  • Your eyelids can become infected.
  • The cornea is also susceptible to the damage caused by the infection.
  • Your retina can also become infected.
  • The “Conjunctiva” can also become severely infected.

Eye Herpes is not a sexually transmittable disease. But a person can pick it up, by having direct contact with the skin or fluids of another individual, who is already suffering the HSV-1.

And once the individual has started to suffer from it, then this virus will never completely leave the body. It can just lay dormant for years. And then suddenly start to become active. But there are low chances of an individual getting infected with this virus, via the infected eye of another individual. And antiviral medications have been found extremely useful. As they lower the damage level, in case of an outbreak.

‘Eye Herpes’ has been found to be more common in men, than in women.

How Is “Eye Herpes” diagnosed?

It is highly recommended to visit an Ophthalmologist if you believe that you have the symptoms of eye herpes. Early detection of this condition, can lead to better treatment results.

The eye specialist will begin the treatment process, by first asking you in detail about the symptoms you have. There will be questions like the following:” When did you initially experience the said symptoms? And have you experienced similar symptoms in the past?

Your eye specialist will then conduct an eye exam, for a thorough detection of the medical condition known as ‘Eye Herpes”. The eye exam will test “your vision level, the sensitivity level of your eyes in response to light, and the pattern of your eye movement”. The eye specialist may also put certain eye drops in your eye. This is done to expand the iris. And this assists your eye specialist in looking at the present condition of your retina.

Your eye doctor can also do a “Fluorescein eye stain test”. To perform this test your doctor will utilize an eye drop. This drop will put a dark orange dye known as “fluorescein”, on the external surface of the eye. Then your eye specialist will take a close look at eye stains, to identify any kind of issue. This issue will be concerning your cornea only.

Treatment Procedure

If your eye specialist has detected the presence of eye herpes, then he will start prescribing anti-viral medications to you. But the treatment methods can differ. As both epithelial keratitis and stromal keratitis, have different types of treatment methods.

Treatment for Epithelial keratitis

In most cases, the HSV infection present on the outside surface of the cornea goes away within a few weeks. And regular intake of antiviral medicines will minimize the chances of vision loss and any kind of corneal damage. The eye specialist can prescribe certain antiviral eye drops/ointment/pharmaceutical drugs which are antiviral in nature.

Your eye specialist can also use the procedure known as “debridement” for the treatment.

Treatment of “Stromal keratitis”

The treatment procedure for this medical condition includes antiviral medicinal therapy. But your eye specialist can also prescribe intake of some steroid (Anti-inflammatory) eye drops, to lower the swelling level in the “Stroma” section.

Is “Eye Herpes” A Recurring Medical Condition?

Around 20% of people who have suffered from eye herpes are more than like to suffer again from this medical condition. But in case the instances of outbreaks become multiple, then your eye specialist can recommend a daily intake of “Antiviral medications”.

And when the outbreaks are more than one in number, then there can be severe complications. These complications include:-

  • You become more than susceptible to develop ulcers.
  • Your corneal surface may start to become numb.
  • There may be perforation of the cornea.

 But if your cornea has become severely damaged, then you will need a “Corneal Transplant”.

The best way to treat your eyes is to visit your eye care professional and get your eyes checked regularly. He will be able to assess the best method of treatment for your eye ailment.

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