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This form of herpes will most commonly affect the cornea, or the clear outer layer, of your eye. This type is when the infection happens inside the lining of the back of your eye or in the retina. The symptoms of herpes of the eye may happen every once in awhile or they could happen on a daily basis and at times may be severe. Herpes of the eye is a viral infection that is usually caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1.
This is the type of virus that can pass from one person to another through some type of contact so if a person has a cold sore and you come in contact with it through kissing them or touching the cold sore you could become infected with HSV. Another virus that could cause herpes of the eye is the virus that causes shingles and chickenpox, which is a disease of your nervous system, is called varicella-zoster virus.
To ensure that you get the proper treatment you should see an eye doctor or ophthalmologist.
Although it is not curable you should always seek medical attention because if not treated it could result in corneal scarring that is severe and in some cases you may have to have a corneal transplant to get back your normal vision. Shingles disease, or herpes zoster, is an outbreak of a rash or blisters caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus also responsible for chickenpox. The first shingles symptoms are a burning or tingling sensation on or under the skin accompanied by a possible fever, headache, chill or upset stomach. For effective shingles treatment, it is imperative that antiviral drugs are administered immediately after diagnosis, usually within 72 hours. Helpful advice for diagnosing and living (and loving) with different types of Herpes virus. As previously mentioned, an eye herpes infection can occur in four types, depending on which area of the eye the virus infects.
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Herpes Simplex keratitis (HSK) is a viral infection that if left untreated can have devastating ocular consequences. Approximately 90% of the population over the age of 15 has been exposed to the type I herpes virus.
It is the secondary herpetic infection, acute secondary herpes keratitis, which is more troubling for the eye.
Secondary herpetic infections mainly affect the cornea producing what is called a dendritic keratitis or branching pattern. With type a person can develop blurred vision, redness, pain, and sensitivity to the light which can be severe.
Herpes of the eye can also be caused by a person who has an outbreak of this herpes simplex virus type 1 if they touch their eyes during the outbreak. If this particular virus is the cause of herpes of the eye it is referred to as herpes zoster ophthalmicus. Proper treatment will also help make the probability of herpes of the eyes reoccurring less frequent. Pain and tenderness of the skin can last from a few days to a couple of weeks before a rash appears. The severity and duration of the outbreak can be significantly reduced with drugs such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famcyclovir. Self-contamination is possible so proper hygiene is a must.Ocular herpes can recur too especially when a person with the virus is exposed to extreme environmental conditions.


A good way to start is by always keeping your hands clean and to avoid touching your eye area as much as possible.
This herpes simplex virus is contagious and can be transmitted by skin contact with others and from one part of the body to another (i.e. After the primary infection in childhood, the virus tends to remain dormant within the nerves of the body, especially the trigeminal nerve.
The drop most often used for this condition is Viroptic® (generic: trifluridine), a potent antiviral agent. A recent study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology (Aug 98) reports that the use of oral medications such as Zovirax for one year following the HSV episode, greatly reduces the rate of re-occurrence. This type of herpes virus is also the common cause for a person to develop blisters their face and cold sores. Always make sure that you wash your hand thoroughly if you come in contact with this virus.
All cases of herpes of the eye should be treated case by case because some of the treatments could just aggravate the outbreak. The rash made up of small fluid-filled blisters, reminiscent to chickenpox, will only ever affect one side of the body. The primary exposure to the virus may cause multiple whitish blisters around the eye termed viral eczema.
The virus may become reactivated during emotional or physical stress, overexposure to ultraviolet light (i.e. Vira A® (generic: vidarabine), an ophthalmic ointment may also be used in combination with Viroptic or on its own for the primary form of the disease. Of that twenty-five million people, approximately fifty thousand will have either a flare-up or infection each year. It is not totally understood what the cause is for HSV type 1 to develop but it thought to be that many people are exposed in early life to this type of virus with or without having any symptoms of this virus. There is no known cure for herpes of the eye and treatment is used to help control the outbreak you have.
The varicella-zoster virus belongs to a group of viruses called herpesviruses, a large group containing more than 70 members that infect organisms from fungi to humans.
The pain is often described as “unrelenting” and usually the patient will not want clothing to touch the affected area. In some instances, systemic antiviral medications such as Zovirax® (generic: acyclovir) or Valtrex may also be used.
The physician may prescribe an antiviral eye drop or topical ointments to help reduce any scarring or damage to your eye.
The group also includes the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores, fever blisters, mononucleosis and genital herpes.
Within a week the blisters burst and for most people, it will take 3-5 weeks for the area to heal and the pain to subside. If the person is suffering from ocular herpes (infection of the eye) they may need to visit an ophthalmologist and begin a course of specific antiviral eye drops. The acute primary herpetic infection is generally self limiting, meaning that within a given period of time, the infection resolves without any treatment or medical intervention. It is important to note that topical steroid medications, at least initially, are contraindicated in the treatment of this dendritic keratitis. In the United States it is one of the most common infectious reasons for corneal blindness. It is also not known what causes the outbreak of this herpes virus but if you have an immune system that is weakened you are more susceptible to having outbreaks. In some cases, however, there can also be painful after affects, known as postherpetic neuralgia.


There are approximately 700,000 new cases of herpes simplex epithelial keratitis in the United States each year. Steroids such as dexamethasone found in Tobradex and prednisolone acetate may promote the growth and expansion of the ocular surface disease. If it is necessary the physician may scrape or brush the affected areas of your cornea with a cotton swab to remove manually the affected cells. Type 1 virus is the usual cause of cold sores around the mouth, and herpes simplex infection in the eye. Some of the reasons that the herpes simplex virus type 1 can be reactivated may include mental stress, exposure to the sun, or sickness.
It is commonly passed on by close contact such as kisses from a family member who has a cold sore.) In many people the primary infection does not cause any symptoms, although in some cases symptoms do occur. A minor and temporary inflammation of the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis) or eyelids (blepharitis) may occur with active infection, often at the same time as the cornea is infected.
Often people who get active eye infection will have had previous cold sores during their lifetime.
They may also put some stain on the front of your eye to show up any irregular areas on the cornea. If your doctor suspects a herpes eye infection you will usually be referred urgently to an eye specialist.
This is to confirm the diagnosis and to determine whether the infection is in the top layer of the cornea (epithelial keratitis), or if the deeper layers are involved (stromal keratitis). These do not kill the virus but stop it from multiplying further until the infection clears. You are likely to be kept under review, until the infection clears, to check that the cornea does not become infected. Note: if you have herpes simplex eye infection, you should stop wearing any contact lens until 24 hours after your symptoms and the infection have completely gone away. As mentioned above, these occur if the virus reactivates from time to time - similar to cold sores. A recurrent infection may occur any time between a few weeks and many years after the first active infection. At least half of people who have one episode of active infection will have a recurrence within 10 years of the first. If recurrences are frequent or severe, then your eye specialist may advise that you take antiviral tablets each day to prevent episodes of active infection. Studies have shown that, on average, the number of recurrences is roughly halved in people who take regular antiviral tablets. Some people say that episodes of active herpes infection may be triggered by strong sunlight. It is also possible that active infection may be triggered if you are run down or unwell for another reason. Some women find that they get recurrences around the time of their period but again there is limited evidence to support this.
However, severe and recurrent herpes simplex eye infections may lead to serious scarring, impaired vision and even blindness in some cases.



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