Can Eye Herpes Be Treated?

Can Eye Herpes Be Treated?

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 and 2 are responsible for cold sores and genital herpes respectively. Both of them are highly contagious infections that can be spread through sexual acts or other physical contacts. Most people with the virus commonly experience sores around the mouth or the genitals. But, have you ever heard about herpes in the eyes? Eye herpes or herpes simplex keratitis is also a viral infection caused by the HSV. The infection is an inflammation of the cornea. It’s estimated that more than 90% of adults have been infected with HSV at the ages of 50. And about 400,000 Americans have suffered from eye herpes. While there’s no cure for the virus, treatment only helps relieve herpes symptoms and prevent future outbreaks. Thus, can eye herpes be treated is a common asked question. Let’s find out the answer.

What are the symptoms of eye herpes?

Epithelial keratitis is the most common type of eye herpes. Also, the virus affects deeper layers of the cornea, causing stromal keratitis. This type is more severe than epithelial keratitis. When infected with eye herpes, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain around or in the eye
  • Rash, redness, sores around the eyes or on the eyelids
  • Swelling of the cornea
  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Discharge in the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision

In many cases, the infection infects only one eye.   

Related: How to Recognize Herpes Symptoms and Manage Them

Pain, redness, sores, discharge are the common symptoms of herpes

The symptoms of eye herpes

What are the causes of eye herpes?

Eye herpes is certainly caused by the HSV, the same virus that is responsible for cold sores around mouths or on the lips. In eye herpes, herpes may infect these portions of the eye, including:

  • Cornea
  • Eyelids
  • Retina
  • Conjunctiva

The lucky news is eye herpes can’t be spread through sexual contacts. But, it’s transmitted from fluids of an infected person with HSV1. In addition, it’s picked up from infected skin contact directly.

Once infected with the virus, it stays dormant in the nervous system and can be reactivated from time to time. So, you can’t eradicate it completely. After a first outbreak of eye herpes, about 20% of people experience the second outbreak in the next year. Fortunately, the risk of spreading the virus to another person is low. Also, most herpes infections are managed by antiviral medications.

Related: How Can I Prevent My Partner From Catching Herpes?

Eye herpes is transmitted from fluids of an infected person with HSV1

The causes of eye herpes

How to diagnose eye herpes

Early treatment is always better for any infection. If you suppose that you’ve eye herpes, should visit an ophthalmologist. He or she may diagnose your infection correctly. To diagnose the infection, your doctor will ask you a list of questions about your symptoms. For example, “when you experience the symptoms, or whether you’ve suffered from similar signs in the past”. Then, you’ll have an eye exam to check eye movement, your vision or light sensitivity. He or she also puts an eye drop in your eyes to widen the iris, which helps him or her to observe the condition of retina.

In addition, your doctor may take a cell sample from the surface of the eye to check when the diagnosis isn’t clear. Because lots of people have been exposed to the virus at some of their lifetime, blood tests to check for past exposure isn’t helpful.  

Related: Life After Genital Herpes Diagnosis

Can eye herpes be treated?

As you know that there’s no cure for the HSV, treatment will help alleviate its symptoms and prevent outbreaks. Eye herpes is, too. If your doctor diagnoses you have eye herpes, he or she will prescribe antiviral medication immediately. Generally, people with genital herpes or colds sores take Acyclovir, Valtrex to treat. ProsurX is also one of the best creams for herpes. It contains powerful antiviral ingredients approved by the FDA. So, these work well for herpes and prevent the virus from coming back.

There’s no cure for the HSV, but antiviral medications will help alleviate its symptoms and prevent outbreaks

Antiviral medications for eye herpes

For eye herpes, the treatment is different from the type of eye herpes you get, including:

  • Epithelial keratitis treatment. When you’re infected with epithelial keratitis, it usually lessens within a few weeks. Thereby, your doctor will recommend antiviral medications. These help avoid vision loss and cornea damage. Acyclovir is a helpful treatment as it doesn’t have side effects of the eye drops, like itching or watery eyes. Besides, to speed the healing time, your doctor may gentle rub the surface of the cornea to eliminate the infectious virus.
  • Stromal keratitis treatment. This type of eye herpes can lead to vision loss and corneal scarring. Thus, antiviral medications are important to treat stromal keratitis. In addition, taking anti- inflammatory eye drops may help to lessen swelling in the stroma.

With eye drop, you should put it in every two hours, depending on the medication. Eye herpes will improve 2- 5 days. The symptoms can also be cleared up within 2- 3 weeks.

Eye herpes is one of the most common causes of corneal blindness in the US. Even though it isn’t curable, you can reduce damage to your eye. The early treatment you get, the less complication you suffer. Besides, you should limit the spread of the virus. Try to take precaution to prevent spreading.

Related: 7 Tips to Treat Herpes and Prevent Future Outbreaks


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