March 30, 2017
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Herpes Viral Infections of the Eye

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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?

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 virus, 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 1/8/2016


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