Recognize the Symptoms of Herpes in the Eyes and Treatment

Not only in the genitals, herpes can also attack the eyes. However, the herpes virus that attacks the eyes is different from the herpes virus that attacks the genitals, so herpes in the eye is not a sexually transmitted disease.

Herpes in the eye is caused by two types of herpes viruses, namely the varicella-zoster virus and herpes simplex virus 1. The varicella-zoster virus is the same as the virus that causes chickenpox and herpes zoster, while the herpes simplex 1 virus is the same as the herpes virus which also attacks the mouth.

Before these two viruses infect the eyes, a person should have had this virus, either in the form of chickenpox or oral herpes. Therefore, the doctor will usually ask the patient whether he has previously suffered from the disease.

After attacking humans, both types of herpes viruses will live around nerve fibers without causing problems. This virus only causes problems and moves from one area of ​​the body to another when the immune system declines due to an illness, such as AIDS, or because of age.

Symptoms of Herpes in the Eyes

Herpes in the eye can cause a series of symptoms in the eye. Symptoms that appear in each person can be different, depending on the type of virus. Below is a description of the symptoms of herpes simplex and herpes zoster.

Symptoms of herpes simplex in the eye (herpes simplex keratitis)

Symptoms of herpes simplex keratitis include:

  • Red and watery eyes.
  • Pain in one eyeball and the surrounding area.
  • Feeling of dirt or "sand" in the eye.
  • Excessive glare when looking at light.
  • The cornea of ​​the eye is swollen and cloudy.

Symptoms of herpes zoster in the eye (herpes zoster ophthalmicus)

Symptoms that can appear due to varicella-zoster virus infection in the eye are:

  • A red rash on the eyelids or around the eyes, tip of the nose, and forehead.
  • Headache and fever.
  • Pain in one eyeball and the surrounding area.
  • Vision becomes blurry.
  • The cornea of ​​the eye is cloudy and swollen.

Based on the symptoms that appear, the ophthalmologist will conduct an examination by previously dripping a special dye in the eye. Then, the doctor will examine the condition of the eye using ultraviolet light.

Herpes in the Eyes Treatment

Herpes is a viral infection disease, so the treatment is not with antibiotics, but with antiviral drugs. The ophthalmologist will give you oral antiviral tablets to speed healing and reduce the severity of the condition. The following are some types of drugs that are commonly given to treat herpes in the eye:

1. Antiviral drugs

It is important to take antiviral drugs regularly and according to the doctor's advice. Do not stop taking the drug without your doctor's knowledge, even if your symptoms improve. This can result in a recurrence of the infection.

2. Corticosteroid eye drops

When herpes in the eye has attacked the cornea, the doctor will give corticosteroid eye drops to prevent corneal damage. However, eye drops containing corticosteroids can increase the pressure inside the eyeball. While using corticosteroid eye drops, it is important to regularly check with your doctor to monitor the side effects of these drugs. To prevent the increase in pressure in the eyeball that can lead to glaucoma, doctors can give other types of eye drops, such as pilocarpine.

3. Painkillers

It should be noted that the pain can still be felt by the patient even though the symptoms in the eye have improved. So, don't jump to the conclusion that treatment has failed when the pain persists. Patients are encouraged to discuss again with the doctor about the pain complaint. Doctors can give pain relievers to reduce eye pain.

4. Corneal transplant

Corneal damage due to herpes can cause sores on the cornea of ​​the eye (corneal ulcers), so it will interfere with vision, and even cause blindness. If you are already blind due to a corneal ulcer, the patient can only be treated with a corneal transplant. To prevent herpes in the eye, you need to maintain your immune system by eating a balanced nutritious diet and getting enough rest. Especially for herpes zoster in the eye, prevention can also be done by vaccinating herpes zoster, especially for the elderly.

Written by:

dr. Dian H. Rahim, SpM