Ocular herpes 06/08/2013
The family of the herpes virus is a significant cause of eye infections.
Infection by the herpes simplex virus affects almost all the ocular tissues, such as the eyelid, conjunctiva, cornea, iris, trabecular meshwork and retina.
The most frequent presentations of a herpes eye infection are as follows:
— Blepharoconjunctivitis: affecting the eyelids and conjunctiva, normally accompanied by palpable preauricular lymph nodes. Vesicles appear on the skin or on the edge of the eyelid.
— Epithelial keratitis: produces the sensation of a foreign body in the eye, light sensitivity, reddening and blurred vision.
— Stromal keratitis: occurs when the infection affects the deeper layers of the cornea and results in stromal oedema, normally maintaining the epithelium intact, resulting in reduced vision, light sensitivity and pain.
— Iridocyclitis: the anterior chamber of the eye can become inflamed, which could be associated with high intraocular pressure. Causes hypersensitivity to light, blurred vision, pain and reddening of the eye.
Although it usually appears in one eye, some people can suffer this infection in both. There is usually pain, inflammation, reddening of the eye, watery eyes, light sensitivity and reduced vision. Generally, after the first ocular manifestation, it will recur in one out of every four people over the next few years.
How long the infection lasts depends on the area affected, each person's immune response and correct treatment.
Early diagnosis and treatment with antiviral drugs are essential. It's fundamental to consult an ophthalmologist to recommend the most suitable treatment. A corneal transplant may be required in those cases where significant residual corneal scarring can be seen.