Herpes Viruses of the Eyes

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What are herpes viruses?

There are several members of the herpes virus "family." They include herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2), herpes zoster (HZV, also known as varicella-zoster virus or VZV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and others.

Which types of herpes viruses can affect the eyes?

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Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) is the most common herpes virus to affect the eyes. This is the same virus that causes cold sores on the lips. Herpes zoster which causes chickenpox in childhood and shingles in adulthood, can also affect the eye. Cytomegalovirus causes eye disease in immunocompromised people, such as HIV-infected patients with low T cell counts.

What parts of the eyes are susceptible to herpes viruses?

All the parts of the eye are susceptible to infection. When any part of the eye is affected, it is referred to as herpes ophthalmicus.

The cornea is most often affected by HSV and HZV. Infection or inflammation of the cornea is known as keratitis. But these viruses can also affect the skin of the eyelids, the uveal tissue (iris and choroid), and the retina. For this reason, a thorough eye exam is recommended to assess the extent of eye involvement.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/19/2014

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Herpes of the Eye - Treatment Question: What was the treatment for your herpes zoster ophthalmicus?
Herpes of the Eye - Symptoms at Time of Diagnosis Question: What symptoms and signs were you experiencing when your herpes simplex keratitis was diagnosed?
Herpes of the Eye - How it Develops Question: Did you have another illness before developing a herpes eye infection? Please share your experience.

Herpes Infection

Herpes viruses typically infect the oral or genital mucosa. Most oral herpes virus infections are due to the virus known as HSV-1, while genital herpes virus infections are most often caused by HSV-2. However, both kinds of herpes virus can infect any location in the body.


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