Herpes of the Eye

Herpes of the eyes is caused by the herpes simplex virus in the cornea. It may also be called keratitis or herpes simplex keratitis. It is estimated that almost all persons older than 60 years of age have herpes simplex virus dormant in their trigeminal ganglia. Keratitis is a recurrent infection and if not treated may lead to blindness specifically cornea-derived blindness.

The corneas of the eyes become inflamed when the herpes simplex virus is reactivated. The herpes simplex virus never leaves the body of a person and will recur when the person is at stress, immune compressed and even for no reason at all.

Symptoms of herpes of the eyes

Classic flu-like symptoms are the first part of the infection. The patient suffers from moderate to high fever, colds, cough and sore throat. Patients then develop tearing, redness and pain along the area of the eye; he may also complain of sensitivity to light or photophobia and blurring of vision as the cornea swells and affects vision. Initial infections may just heal even without medical intervention however succeeding infections may become more difficult to treat and may already cause damage to the corneas.

Some people who develop recurring herpes of the eyes suffer from deep scarring of the cornea and permanent loss of feeling when the eye is touched. Other complications for recurring herpes of the eyes are gradual visual impairment as the infection causes blood vessels to grow into the delicate areas of the corneas.

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Treatments of herpes of the eyes

Treatment strategies for herpes of the eyes may depend on the outcome of a diagnosis made by an ophthalmologist. A specialist will do tests to provide an accurate diagnosis of the disease and to recommend the ideal treatment.

The most common diagnostic tests done are corneal smears, cultures and blood tests. Visualization of the corneas to determine the extent of the damage done by the virus is often done after recurrent herpes of the eyes infections.

Treatment for the virus is managed by taking anti-viral medications and by taking care of symptoms of the illness:

· Treat fevers by increasing fluid intake and sponge baths. You may also take OTC fever medications to reduce fever. Wear loose clothing to quickly reduce body temperature.

· Increase a patient’s resistance to infection by eating fruits and vegetables and by taking vitamin supplements.

· Drink more than 8 to 10 glasses of water or fluids to prevent dehydration.

· Keep eye area clean. Wash external eye areas with running water and pat dry with soft clean cloth or towel. Do not rub or scratch your eyes; you may apply cold compress to reduce pain and itching.

Preventing the spread of herpes in the eyes includes frequent hand washing. Health workers should wear protective equipment and wash their hands ASAP after handling patients. Do not share food, eating utensils, towels, handkerchief, eye glasses or sunglasses to reduce infection. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough to prevent the spread of infection.

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