Herpes Viral Infections of the Eye

  • Medical Author:
    Patricia S. Bainter, MD

    Dr. Bainter is a board-certified ophthalmologist. She received her BA from Pomona College in Claremont, CA, and her MD from the University of Colorado in Denver, CO. She completed an internal medicine internship at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver, CO, followed by an ophthalmology residency and a cornea and external disease fellowship, both at the University of Colorado. She became board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology in 1998 and recertified in 2008. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Dr. Bainter practices general ophthalmology including cataract surgery and management of corneal and anterior segment diseases. She has volunteered in eye clinics in the Dominican Republic and Bosnia. She currently practices at One to One Eye Care in San Diego, CA.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Can herpes eye infections be prevented?

For patients with frequent recurrences of herpes eye infections, taking a low dose antiviral drug on a daily basis can, in some cases, reduce the frequency of recurrences. Your doctors will help determine if this is a safe option.

There is no vaccine against HSV at this time. There is a vaccine against chickenpox for babies and toddlers (varicella vaccine). For adults over 60 years of age, the zoster vaccine may reduce the frequency and severity of recurrences of shingles and HZV eye disease. Research is ongoing to develop a means of eradicating the virus in its latent state.


Farooq, A. V., et al. "Herpes simplex epithelial and stromal keratitis: an epidemiologic update." Survey of Ophthalmology 57.5 (2012): 448-462.

Liesegang, T. J. "Herpes zoster ophthalmicus natural history, risk factors, clinical presentation, and morbidity." Ophthalmology 115.2 Suppl (2008): S3-S12.

Oxman, M. N., et al. "Shingles Prevention Study Group. A vaccine to prevent herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia in older adults." New England Journal of Medicine 352.22 (2005): 2271-2284.

van Rooij, J., et al. "Effect of acyclovir after penetrating keratoplasty for herpatic keratitis: a placebo-controlled multicenter trial." Ophthalmology 110.10 (2003): 1916-1919.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/8/2016

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