Ocular Herpes Simplex

Ocular Herpes Simplex

Ocular Herpes Simplex - an INFECTION of the eyes with HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS 1 (HSV-1), which causes cold sores, or herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), which causes GENITAL HERPES. The virus spreads to the eye to cause the initial infection via contamination from contact with an existing herpes sore elsewhere on the body. Ocular herpes simplex features similar eruptions of sores on the surface of the EYE and inside the eyelids. The sores are very painful and can cause permanent scarring of the CORNEA.

About half of people who have one outbreak of ocular herpes simplex will experience a second; about 20 percent have persistently recurring infections, ranking ocular herpes simplex as the leading infectious cause of corneal destruction. A serious complication of ocular herpes simplex is stromal KERATITIS, in which the IMMUNE SYSTEM begins to attack the stromal cells that make up the cornea. This leads to scarring deep within the cornea, resulting in distortions of vision and diminished VISUAL ACUITY.

The sores of ocular herpes simplex are characteristic of the infection. The antiviral medication acyclovir may reduce the severity of outbreaks of the infection when taken at the first sign of symptoms. Some studies show that taking acyclovir for 12 months significantly reduces recurrent ocular herpes simplex. However, there is no cure for herpes infection. Damage that occurs as a consequence of infection is permanent. Infectioncontrol methods, such as frequent HAND WASHING and keeping the fingers away from the eyes, can help prevent initial infection.

See also ANTIVIRAL MEDICATIONS; AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS; COLD SORE; CORNEAL INJURY; CORNEAL TRANSPLANTATION.

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