We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Eye Herpes?

By C. Ausbrooks
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
TheHealthBoard is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At TheHealthBoard, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Eye herpes, also known as ocular herpes, is an eye infection caused by the herpes simplex 1 virus. This particular simplex also causes cold sores on the lips and mouth. The virus causes scarring of the cornea, and inflammation of the eyes, sometimes referred to as an eye cold sore.

The most common form of eye herpes results in a corneal infection, which is known as herpes simplex keratitis. Only the top layer of the cornea is affected by herpes simplex keratitis, and healing usually takes place without scarring. However, there are other, more serious, types of eye herpes, including stromal keratitis and iridocyclitis.

Stromal keratitis is the result of a deep corneal infection, which moves beyond the outer layers of the cornea, resulting in scarring, vision loss, or even blindness. Although this form of eye herpes is rare, it is the most common cause of corneal scarring leading to blindness in the United States, according to the National Eye Institute.

Iridocyclitis is the most serious type of eye herpes, causing inflammation of the iris and surrounding tissues. Severe light sensitivity, eye pain, redness, and blurred vision are common symptoms. Iridocyclitis is a form of uveitis, or inflammation of the eye’s uvea, which affects the deeper layers of the eye.

All forms of eye herpes are transmitted through direct contact with the virus, either from another person who is having an outbreak, or self-contamination. Touching a cold sore on the lips or mouth, and then touching the eyes can cause an eye herpes infection. Once the infection has entered the blood stream, it may remain dormant for years before an outbreak is experienced, making it difficult to determine when and how the infection is contracted.

Once an initial eye herpes outbreak is experienced, it has a 50 percent chance of reoccurring. This could happen within weeks, or it may be several years before another outbreak. Symptoms typically occur in one eye at a time, but in some cases, both eyes may be affected simultaneously.

Treatment of eye herpes varies, depending on the location of the infection in the eye. Treatment is determined on an individual basis, since some options could further aggravate the condition. Antiviral drugs, physical removal of infected cells, steroids, and surgery are common treatment options.

For superficial infections, eye drops or ointments are usually administered, and sometimes oral medications are used. A doctor may also remove the infected cells from the cornea through a process known as debridement. A corneal spatula is used to gently scrape away the infection, and then a soft contact lens is placed over the eye until it is healed.

Steroid and antiviral drops are used to treat more deeply embedded instances of eye herpes, such as stromal keratitis. These treatments reduce inflammation of the eye, and prevent scarring. Surgery is performed if corneal scarring is present, and other methods of treatment do not clear the problem. A corneal transplant is needed to restore vision, if the scarring is permanent. There is no cure for eye herpes, but these treatment methods may help reduce outbreaks and symptoms.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon301796 — On Nov 06, 2012

I have had eye herpes - recurrent - for over thirty years. Scarring has caused some vision loss and the pupil to go cloudy in color.

By angelBraids — On May 08, 2011

@Bakersdozen - Don't worry too much. Feline eye herpes isn't contagious for humans and other types of animals. If you have another cat that is the only pet at risk, though most of them build immunity early in life.

You do need to take her to the vet to get a proper diagnosis, but in the meantime try gently washing her eyes with a warm cloth.

By Bakersdozen — On May 06, 2011

Can animals get this too? My cat has been sick for a few days, and seems to have all the symptoms of eye herpes. I can't get to the vet for a day or two, and I'm worried she is putting other pets, as well as the humans in the house at risk.

By Windchime — On May 03, 2011

I had no idea that herpes of the eyes existed. I seem to have had one lip cold sore after another recently and now I feel lucky that it hasn't infected me elsewhere.

My mother always told me never to touch my eyes at all unless my hands were clean. I'm glad I had that drilled into me as a kid, though it's not always easy to avoid it.

Next time I get a mouth sore I'm going to wear mittens in the house, as a reminder not to spread the virus.

TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.