- Eye Diseases Pictures Slideshow
- Pink Eye Slideshow Pictures
- Eyes and Eye Conditions Quiz
- Patient Comments: Herpes of the Eye - Treatment
- Patient Comments: Herpes of the Eye - Symptoms at Time of Diagnosis
- Patient Comments: Herpes of the Eye - Experience
- Find a local Eye Doctor in your town
- What are herpes viruses?
- What causes herpes eye infections?
- Is ocular herpes contagious?
- How is ocular herpes transmitted?
- What parts of the eyes are susceptible to herpes viruses?
- Who is at risk for herpes infections of the eyes?
- What is the incubation period for ocular herpes?
- What are the signs and symptoms of herpes eye infections?
- What health care professionals diagnose and treat ocular herpes?
- How do health care professionals diagnose herpes eye infections?
- What are treatment options for herpes eye infections?
- What are the possible risks and complications of untreated herpes eye infections?
- What is the prognosis of herpes eye infections?
- Can herpes eye infections be prevented?
What parts of the eyes are susceptible to herpes viruses?
All the parts of the eye are susceptible. 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 herpetic 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.
Who is at risk for herpes infections of the eyes?
Although a very large percentage of the population (85% or more) carries the HSV-1 virus, not everyone who carries the virus gets an eye infection.
When a person carrying the virus becomes immunocompromised (for example their immune system becomes weakened) due to HIV, medications (steroids, chemotherapy), age, and perhaps stress, the virus is more likely to become "active" and incite an outbreak that may include an eye infection.
However, in many (if not most) cases of HSV keratitis, the frequency of eye infections appears to be random and not necessarily associated with episodes of stress or immune weakness. In fact, studies have suggested that the particular subtype of HSV-1 virus that an individual acquires has as much to do with the frequency of eye infections as the individual's immune system.
What is the incubation period for ocular herpes?
The incubation period (the time between acquiring the virus and the appearance of ocular symptoms) can range from a few days to several decades.