Herpes and eye infection

Originally Published: April 12, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: May 11, 2015
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Dear Alice,

Concerning herpes infections, I've read that they can occur in the eye(s). How would one tell if the infection is present in the eye(s)? Is there any treatment or cure that is available to control or eradicate the infection within the eye(s)?

Dear Reader,

Yes, herpes virus can infect the eye. Fortunately, this infection, known as ocular herpes, is rare.

There are no symptoms that would enable you to say to yourself, "A-ha, I must have herpes in my eye!" However, there are symptoms which would prompt anyone to think that something bad is happening and that it is time to get help. Usually, these would be symptoms of keratitis, i.e., inflammation of the cornea, the membrane covering the visual portion of the outer eye. These symptoms could include blurred vision, discomfort caused by exposure to bright lights, pain around the eye, and redness on the eyes' surface, especially adjacent to the cornea.

If you are experiencing such symptoms, don't just use a friend's herpes medication and wait to see if it gets better. See an ophthalmologist (medical eye specialist) as soon as possible. There are many other possible causes, and treatment is both important and complex. Anti-viral drugs, particularly orally administered acyclovir according to one study, can help reduce recurrent infections of ocular herpes.

For more information about ocular herpes, read Herpes eye infection and blindness? in the Go Ask Alice! General Health archive and check out the related questions.


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