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Although many associate the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) with complications of the sexual nature, HSV can also trigger major vision problems — specifically HSV keratitis. HSV keratitis occurs when the cornea becomes infected as a result of having HSV. Although the infection can sometimes heal on its own without causing permanent damage to vision, more severe cases can lead to blindness. According to the CDC, HSV keratitis is a leading cause of blindness worldwide, which is why it’s important to see your eye doctor on a regular basis if you suffer from HSV.

SYMPTOMS OF HSV KERATITIS

HSV keratitis usually develops after HSV has already infected another part of your body and caused an outbreak or “flare up,” such as cold sores on your mouth. The most common symptoms of HSV keratitis include:

  • Watery discharge
  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision

If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your eye doctor immediately to undergo an examination and receive treatment. If you fail to meet with your eye doctor, you could be increasing your risk for vision impairment or blindness.

RISK FACTORS FOR HSV KERATITIS

Individuals at the highest risk for developing HSV keratitis are those who have already suffered from HSV keratitis — especially those who wear contact lenses. Research shows that the risk for HSV keratitis is higher in females, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, those who were born outside of the United States, and those who are currently sexually active, or have had more than three sex partners in their lifetime.

At this time, HSV keratitis can only be diagnosed by an ophthalmologist after a patient has had an eye exam. In most cases, HSV keratitis can be treated with antiviral medications or eye drops. In some cases, surgery may be necessary if scarring from HSV keratitis has triggered vision problems.

Have you been diagnosed with the Herpes Simplex Virus? Call Silverstein Eye Centers today to make an appointment for an eye exam.

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