Herpetic red eyes and what I should do

As an Ophthalmolgist specializing in Cornea in the Bronx, I see patients worry tremendously when they get the diagnosis of herpetic keratitis. We discuss the meaning and treatment for the condition

Definition:
Herpes is a virus that lays dormant in the nerve ganglion. There are different types with HSV I located in the trigeminal ganglion and is extremely common in the population.

Signs:
Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis can often be seen as follicular inflammation with preauricilar lymph nodes. In children it can present as belpharoconjunctivitis. In laymen terms, this means it can present with red eyes and inflammation of the lymph nodes.

Assessing:
As an Ophthalmologist in the bronx, we have a few techniques we can use to help diagnose the condition. The first is looking under the slit lamp to see if there are any dendrites. Also the cornea will often be tested for sensation as herpes can cause anesthesia of the cornea. Less commonly, the pressure of the eye can be increased. In certain cases, blood test can be sent out but since certain strains are so common this can often not be as useful.

Treatment:
Luckily the medication for herpes are pretty effective. Acyclovir or valacyclovir on a 10-14 day course can be very helpful. It is important to go to your Ophthalmogist who can decide on the best treatment for the condition. Most times once medication starts the patient will return depending on the severity of the condition in around 3-7 days for follow-up.

Author
David Alevi MD David Alevi is a board certified corneal specialist and founder of South Bronx Eyes.

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