Cold Sores & Your Eyes

Over our various blog articles, we have discussed how cold sores affect parts of the body other than the lips and other cold sore facts. While the HSV-1 and HSV-2 virus strains are the most common, there’s also the Herpes Zoster or HZV, Cytomegalovirus or CMV, and others.

How Can Cold Sores Affect My Eyes?

HSV-1 is the most common strain to affect the eyes, which is also the strain that causes cold sores. Herpes Zoster, the same strain that causes chickenpox in children and shingles for adults, can also affect the eyes.

The cornea of the eye is the most susceptible part of the eye to infection. When the cornea of the eye becomes infected or inflamed, it’s referred to as keratitis. HSV-1 and HZV can also affect the skin of the eyelids, iris, and the retina.

Who’s at Risk?

Although roughly 85% of the population carries the HSV-1 virus, not everyone will suffer an eye infection.

Infection happens most often when the immune system is compromised in the carrier, due to any number of triggers, such as age, stress, or other illness. However, in many cases of HSV-related eye infections, outbreaks are completely random and are not related to triggers. The main source of eye infections is mainly from a weakened immune system.

What are the Symptoms?

When an HSV eye infection takes place, the symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Blurred Vision
  • Redness
  • Tearing
  • Light Sensitivity

HZV is also accompanied by shingles or a rash on the forehead near the infected eye.

How are Herpes Eye Infections Treated?

After a herpes eye infection has begun, treatment will include either topical drops for the eyes for oral antibiotics. With the use of medication, the infection can be suppressed, but much like cold sores cannot be rid of forever. Find out more here about cold sore care tips.

When the virus becomes active, it will begin to reproduce and send infected cells along a nerve path to the skin or cornea. The antiviral medications only work on the active virus, not on its dormant counter-part.

Can Herpes Eye Infections be Prevented?

As there’s no vaccine for the herpes simplex virus, there’s no permanent way to cure herpes related eye infections. The best way to handle these types of infections are to carefully monitor for symptoms and aggressively treat them once they appear.