herpetic keratitis It is the inflammation of the cornea caused by an infection with a virus of the herpes family.. The cornea is the front part of the eye that covers the iris and pupil; if damaged, the vision in that eye can be impaired.
Herpes family viruses are very common viruses. Specifically, as detailed by one publication in National Center for Biotechnology Information, the main cause of herpetic keratitis is herpes simplex virus type I. It is estimated that 90% of the population has been in contact with this microorganism since childhood.
These viruses are able to remain dormant in the body and reactivate themselves. under certain circumstances, such as a drop in defenses. This makes pathologies such as herpetic keratitis quite frequent.
Herpetic keratitis is an eye infection that can be confused with other pathologies and which, moreover, can be recurrent. Therefore, in this article we tell you everything you need to know about it.
What are the causes of herpetic keratitis?
Herpes virus type I it is very common and contagious. It is transmitted by contact with the skin or saliva. Normally, people become infected in childhood, although this usually causes no symptoms. It is the so-called primary infection.
The virus remains in a latent state in the nervous system, on the skin and in the eyes.. This means that even if it does not produce symptoms, it is still present in the body and can be reactivated at any time.
There are numerous circumstances that can cause this virus to become reactivated. For example, stress, sun exposure, fever or trauma that cause a significant drop in defenses. Menstruation in women or taking certain medications can also cause reactivation of the herpes virus. This reactivation is what usually causes herpetic keratitis.
How does it happen?
As we have mentioned, the virus can first infect the eye in the so-called primary infection. This usually occurs in children. However, in these cases, the symptoms are mild and are confused with the common conjunctivitis.
But, in most cases, herpetic keratitis occurs due to reactivation of the virus, as we have mentioned. The virus, present in the eye, can cause an infection when the person’s defenses are low.
What are the symptoms of herpetic keratitis?
In case of primary infection, the symptoms are similar to those of the common conjunctivitis. The eye is usually red and very itchy. Also, there is a discharge, which can be yellowish or green, and rheum appears on the eyelids or eyelashes.
When it comes to a reactivation of the virus, herpetic keratitis produces more severe symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- Constant tearing.
- Sensitivity to bright light.
- Eye pain and redness.
- There is a foreign body sensation inside the eye.
Now, like the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionif the infection becomes complicated, the cornea becomes excessively inflamed and blurred vision may occur. Indeed, ulcers can occur on the cornea. This is serious as it can lead to vision loss.
Also, if herpetic keratitis recurs, a larger surface area of the cornea ends up being damaged. Permanent scars are formed in it which also cause a decrease in vision.
How is it diagnosed?
To diagnose herpetic keratitis, it is essential that, in case of any of the symptoms, go to your family doctor or ophthalmologist. They will take care of making you a correct eye examination.
Because of this, Eye drops with temporary dyes are usually used. These mark any lesions on the cornea and make it possible to detect which areas are damaged.
Sometimes, doctors collect samples from these damaged areas for laboratory examination. Through cultures of these samples it is possible to detect the presence of the virus in the eye.
Treatment of herpetic keratitis
There is no treatment to completely eradicate herpes viruses from the body. However, yes there are drugs that allow us to treat infections such as herpetic keratitis.
First, doctors often prescribe antiviral eye drops.. These antivirals can also be administered orally or intravenously. The most commonly used is a drug called acyclovir. However, when the keratitis has produced severe lesions in the cornea, the treatment is more complex. You may need a corneal transplant.
The specialist will be the one who will choose the most appropriate treatment.
Consult your doctor before taking any action
As we have seen, herpetic keratitis is a common eye infection which, if not treated properly, can cause serious vision problems. As, It is important to consult your doctor if you have any questions. so that this is so that you can act right as soon as possible and feel better.
Avoid doing it yourself, as this could harm you and cause further complications. Remember, it’s best to always have your doctor’s instructions.
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