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What is herpes simplex keratitis?

Herpes simplex is a very common virus which may remain inactive in your nervous system for many years. It causes no symptoms until some factor, such as poor health, disturbance of your immune system, or certain drugs cause the virus to become active and travel down the nerves to the surface of the body. If this happens it may cause an infection of your skin, such as a cold sore; or keratitis, which is an infection of your cornea in your eye.

Who is affected by herpes simplex keratitis?

Anyone who has the herpes simplex virus latent in their system may be affected by herpes simplex keratitis.

What are the symptoms of herpes simplex keratitis?

These include the eye being red, painful, sensitive to light, and having blurred vision.

What should you do if you notice these symptoms?

If you notice these symptoms you should contact your optometrist as soon as possible. If you cannot do this you should go to your local eye casualty department. If these symptoms are present in children, or if you wear contact lenses or have the symptoms in both eyes, you should go to a hospital eye casualty department.

How do you treat herpes simplex keratitis?

If you are suspected of having herpes simplex keratitis your optometrist or ophthalmologist will carefully examine your eye to make sure that the back of your eye is not involved. You will then be given antiviral eye drops to treat the infection.


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