Herpes simplex is a very common viral condition. The virus is the cause of “cold sores”. The same virus can also affect various areas of the eye including the cornea.

Herpes simplex keratitis is the name of the condition when the virus affects the cornea. The eye can become:

  • Red
  • Painful
  • Sensitive to light
  • Have visual loss

​These symptoms are potentially serious and patients must be seen without delay. Herpes simplex disease can if untreated cause visual loss.

How common is Herpes simplex?

Around 1 to 2 people in every 1,000 in the UK are affected.

How is Herpes simplex treated ?

Herpes simplex eye infection can be a sight threatening condition but if the infection is treated promptly it is not usually serious.

Antivirals such as Aciclovir in an ointment or tablet form is used in the early stages to treat the condition. In those unfortunate enough to have frequent recurrences, tablets may be used long term to prevent a recurrent infection. Sometimes steroid eye drops are used in conjunction with anti-viral medication. Your ophthalmologist is the best person to decide the best course of treatment for you.

If you feel you may have any type of infection, you can be seen promptly at Centre for Sight. To book an appointment call 0800 0112882.

Author Information

Authored by Sheraz Daya MD FACP FACS FRCS(Ed) FRCOphth, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon & Medical Director, June 2019.

Next review due June 2024.