The Herpes virus falls into two categories

Herpes Keratitis is a viral infection of the eye caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). HSV has two types.

• TYPE I: HSV- I is the most common and primarily affects the facial area, causing the familiar cold sores and fever blisters

• TYPE II: HSV-II is the sexually transmitted form of Herpes, which affects the genitals.

Although both types can affect the eye, HSV-1 is usually the most frequent form to affect the eyes. This is usually through touching the active lesion i.e. cold sore or blisters and then touching the eye directly. Symptoms of Herpes Keratitis include pain, redness, blurred vision, tearing and sensitivity to light. It is important to seek timely treatment to help minimise the risk of serious complications to the eye.

This is a serious disease and if left untreated can cause severe irreversible damage to the eye depending on the depth of the infection in the eye. Treatment depends on the severity of the infection; mild infection may be treated with oral or topical antiviral medication. In severe cases where the infection has spread into the deeper layers of the cornea and has caused scarring; a corneal transplant may be required.

The Herpes Zoster Virus (HZV) causes the shingles. Shingles are red painful rashes with blisters that open up and form scabs on the skin. HZV is the same virus that leads to chickenpox. Following the chicken pox, the virus remains in an inactive state within the nerve cells of our body however, sometimes the virus becomes active again and can problems. Normally it reactivates after the age of 50 or due to factors like weak immunity, immunosuppressant medication or steroids, other illness or diseases, and stress. If the virus spreads to the nerves of the eye it can cause serious problems like glaucoma, cataracts, double vision and even corneal breakdown. This also requires and immediate course of oral antiviral medication.

It is very important to remember that in this acute stage this is a contagious disease and spreads by touching from person to person.

If you feel like you or someone you know may be experiencing any symptom of the herpes virus consult an ophthalmologist urgently.

Contact us at The Eye Center to have your eye examined by one of our highly experienced ophthalmologists and get immediate treatment. If the disease has spread deeper into the eye causing secondary damage or diseases like glaucoma, cataract or scarring to the cornea our specialised consultants will be able to guide you regarding the best treatment options.

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