In EyeCare Blog

Can I get Herpes in my eyes? The short answer is, Yes. 

Herpes is a common recurring viral infection similar to a cold sore. It is initially passed by others who have it, but can remain dormant for years. The National Eye Institute estimates that 400,000 Americans have suffered from a type of ocular herpes, and 50,000 new cases occur each year.

So what exactly causes it?

It can be passed in contact with another person experiencing an outbreak. It can also be passed by self contact with an active infection such as a cold sore of the lip. The virus enters the body and stays in the nerves and can remain there for years.

Another form is actually caused by the chicken pox virus that is left dormant for many years. It later recurs as the shingles virus, which can also show up in your eyes.

How can I tell if I have Herpes in my eyes?

Symptoms tend to overlap other forms of eye infections, so it may be difficult to determine. These include tearing, irritation, light sensitivity, blurred vision, eye redness, and watery discharge. Please see your eye doctor if you experience a new eye infection.

How is Herpes in my eyes treated?

Typically it’s treated with antiviral medication, oral and topical. The sooner it’s diagnosed, the quicker the healing can begin. If left untreated for long periods of time, corneal scarring can result. This may lead to permanent loss of vision.

How often can this happen?

If this has happened before, it’s likely to again. Some patients are more prone to this. The exact cause is unknown, but it tends to show up in situations of stress. It is estimated that once it has been diagnosed, it has a 40-50% chance of recurring. It could show up weeks or even years later, typically in one eye.

If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment contact us.


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