Hyderabad Ophthalmologists' Association

Eye Herpes


Treatment for eye herpes depends on where the infection is located in the eye — in the corneal epithelium, corneal stroma, iris, retina, etc. Some ocular herpes treatments could aggravate the outbreak and, therefore, should be treated on a case-by-case basis.

If the corneal infection is only superficial, it can normally be alleviated by using antiviral eye drops or ointments, or oral antiviral pills. However, an eye doctor may treat eye herpes by scraping away the infected corneal epithelial cells with a cotton swab or corneal "spatula" instrument. This is known as debridement. Following debridement, a patch or soft contact lens might be needed to help the cornea to heal.

Steroid drops can help decrease inflammation and prevent corneal scarring when the infection appears deeper in the corneal layers. Steroid drops are almost always used in conjunction with and simultaneously with antiviral drops. Steroid drops, like other steroid medications, decrease the eye's immune system. Therefore, patients with a history of ocular herpes should use only a steroid drop that is specifically prescribed by their eye care professional. Steroid drops have been known to cause a recurrent eye herpes infection in susceptible patients. Also, an antibiotic eye drop along with a therapeutic contact lens may be used to prevent a secondary bacterial infection while the herpes eye infection is being treated.

Surgery is required if there is scarring in the cornea and the treatments including the steroids do not help clear the center of the cornea. In cases where corneal scarring is permanent, a corneal transplant may be recommended to restore vision.

Although there is no cure for eye herpes, the described treatment programs can help control outbreaks. Studies are being performed to determine better methods for managing the disease
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