Herpes Keratitis

Most people are surprised to find out that two types of Herpes viruses: ┬áthe one that causes cold sores and the one that causes chickenpox — can cause a condition called herpetic eye disease. Unlike a separate virus that causes genital herpes, herpetic eye disease is not sexually transmitted.

One of the viruses that causes herpetic eye disease is called the varicella – zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. When this virus affects the eye, it is called herpes zoster ophthalmicus.

The other virus that causes herpetic eye disease is called herpes simplex type 1. Herpes simplex type 1 is the same virus that causes cold sores on the lips and mouth. In the eye, it usually causes an infection of the cornea. This infection is called herpes simplex keratitis.

How does Herpetic Eye Disease Diagnosed?

The two types of herpetic eye disease have different symptoms. One thing they have in common, however, is that they can both be very painful, because they affect the nerves directly. The problem is likely to be herpes zoster ophthalmicus if your doctor finds some or all of these symptoms:

  • Pain in or around the eye
  • Redness of the eye
  • Feeling of dirt or “grit” in the eye
  • Overflowing tears
  • Swelling or cloudiness

Please contact your local Palm Beach Eye Center and schedule an appointment if you experience any of these symptoms.