Herpes simplex virus is best known as the culprit behind oral and genital herpes. Commonly, it causes itchy, crusty sores on the lips or on the genital areas. Even when the sore is invisible, the virus still lives in the human body. That’s why many people with herpes simplex virus don’t know they catch it. Aside from the skin, herpes can also affect the eyes, causing various symptoms. These may include light sensitivity, redness, pain and inflammation of the eyes. A herpes eye infection is serious and it’s quite common in middle-aged people. If you’re having herpes in the eye, speak to your doctor right away. Usually, the infection is not a problem as long as treatment starts early. Here’s everything you should know about herpes eye infection and how to treat it.
How can herpes affect the eyes?
Herpes simplex virus type 1 or HSV-1 could be to blame for herpes of the eye. HSV-1 mostly infects the face, causing sores on the mouth. But sometimes, it can cause sores on the genitals, which are called genital herpes. Genital herpes is mainly caused by HSV-2, but you can also get it from HSV-1. This may happen by receiving oral sex from someone who has HSV-1. HSV-1 infects the skin, so experts claim that it can definitely affect the eye. In some cases, HSV-1 lays dormant and hides in the bundle of nerves. Then, it may travel around the nerves of the face and erupt in the eye. Moreover, there is an idea that herpes might get into the eye from the outside. However, the evidence of this supposition is still limited.
Studies also suggest that you might get herpes in the eye from transmission. If you touch the sore and then touch your eye without washing your hand, you will get herpes eye infection.
What are symptoms of a herpes eye infection?
Not all people with herpes eye infections develop signs and symptoms. But when symptoms are noticeable, the sufferer may experience:
- A watery eye;
- Redness of the eye;
- Pain in or around the eye;
- Sore or rash on the eyelids;
- Sensitivity to light;
- Eye problems, such as blurred vision.
People with herpes in the eye may also have flu-like symptoms, like a fever and fatigue. Herpes eye infections are very dangerous and need to be treated right away. If you leave herpes in the eye untreated, this can lead to blindness.
What are triggers of a herpes eye infection?
HSV-1 is the first cause of herpes simplex eye infections. You can get it by contacting with the affected skin area. So if you have oral herpes, avoid touching it. If you’ve touched the sore, wash your hands thoroughly. And avoid touching your eye or genitals by hands.
There are many factors that can reactivate HSV-1 and cause herpes symptoms. For example,
- Exposure to cold weather or winds
- Exposure to sunlight
- Another illness or injury
- Hormonal changes
- A weakened immune system
How can a herpes eye infection be diagnosed?
After 2 weeks of infection, herpes will develop noticeable symptoms. Depending on the signs and symptoms told above, you can easily recognize herpes. To confirm diagnosis, you should speak to a doctor. They may ask about your symptoms and examine your eye. Then, they may send you to an eye specialist if they think you have herpes of the eye. With knowledge and equipment, the specialist may help you more quickly. They may take a sample of the fluid from your eye and send it to laboratory for testing. After diagnosis, they may give you an appropriate treatment.
How can you treat herpes in the eyes?
Treatment of herpes often depends on symptoms and locations of infection. In most cases, herpes can be treated with antiviral creams like Prosurx. This is one of the best topical medications for oral and genital herpes. However, treatment of herpes in the eye is more different. In fact, applying antiviral cream directly to the eye can cause some side effects. In some cases, this can make your symptoms worse and lead to blindness. To deal with herpes simplex eye infections, follow some treatments below:
- Use eye drops or ointments that contain either antiviral properties or steroids medicines.
- Use antiviral tablets.
- Wear contact lenses.
- Clean your eye before using eye drops or eye ointments. This treatment should be carried out by your eye specialist.
Related: Top 6 Herbal Remedies for Herpes
Herpes can affect the eyes, causing many eye problems such as blurred vision. If you don’t treat it immediately, the infection can lead to loss of vision. So if you suspect that you have herpes in the eye, see your doctor to get early treatment.