When a corneal herpes simplex infection (herpes simplex keratoconjunctivitis or keratitis) begins, it may resemble a mild bacterial infection. Most often, the infection produces only mild changes in the cornea and goes away without treatment. Rarely, the virus deeply penetrates the cornea, destroying its surface. The infection may recur, further damaging the surface of the cornea. Several recurrences may result in ulceration, permanent scarring, and a loss of feeling when the eye is touched. The herpes simplex virus can also cause an increased growth of blood vessels, visual impairment, or total loss of vision.
The eyes are slightly painful, watery, red, and sensitive to light. Corneal swelling makes vision hazy.
Cold sores are the usually the cause of the extremely infectious Herpes simplex virus, which can also cause a corneal ulcer and genital herpes, so do not touch eyes or genitals after touching cold sores.
In first stage of infection, blisters and then ulcers form inside the mouth or on the face, accompanied by red, swollen gums, a furry tongue, mild fever, and feeling generally under par. Though these symptoms clear up within a few days, the virus may not be destroyed, so whenever immunity is at a low ebb infection tends to reappear around mouth and lips, causing blisters which weep and then become encrusted; these usually clear up within 5-7 days.
The herpes infection doesnâ€™t respond to antibiotics, as a bacterial infection would, and often can worsen if not treated.
A optometrist may prescribe an antiviral drug as an ointment or a solution to be applied to the eye several times a day. However, theyâ€™re not always effective; sometimes, other drugs must be taken by mouth. Sometimes, to help speed healing, an ophthalmologist may have to gently swab the cornea with a soft cotton-tipped applicator to remove dead and damaged cells.
As with any eye condition, be sure to contact us if your eye is ever red or painful as early treatment can prevent conditions from becoming sight threatning.