Herpetic Eye Disease

Herpetic virus

Herpetic eye disease refers to damage to the eye caused by one of the Herpetic group of viruses. It is very common, with over 95% of people positive for the virus over 60 years of age. The most common presentation of this virus is a cold sore which typically occurs around the mouth. 

Herpetic eye damage

The herpetic virus causes significant damage to the front of the eye, including iritis, uveitis, cataract, glaucoma corneal scarring and vision loss. Disease may occur repeatedly or be continuous over months to years. Damage may occur from the virus or the body’s immune response to the virus. 

Corneal complications include:

  • Thinning of the cornea
  • Infection
  • Persistent corneal ulcers
  • Astigmatism
  • Scarring

What treatment is required?

For active infection, antiviral treatment is needed. If there is immune disease, longer treatment with anti-inflammatory medications is needed. There are anecdotal reports and some studies suggest Lysine 1000mg three times per day, long term, may help reduce recurrence. However, there is no definitive scientific proof. Instead we prescribe oral anti-viral therapy which is preferred

Will I lose my vision?

If left untreated, vision loss may occur.  The key to management is prevention of recurrent and chronic disease. This requires early detection and if necessary, long term treatment.