Primary keratoconjunctivitis caused by herpes simplex virus type 2

Overview of Primary Keratoconjunctivitis Caused by Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2

Primary keratoconjunctivitis caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2-PK) is an infectious eye condition that, if left untreated, can result in serious vision loss. HSV2-PK is often mistakenly called "genital herpes simplex" infection, since it is most commonly caused by HSV-2, which is the same virus that causes genital herpes. However, HSV2-PK can actually be caused by HSV-1 as well, which is the virus that causes oral herpes.

HSV2-PK is caused by an infection of the cornea, the clear surface of the eye. In the early stages of infection, HSV2-PK may cause inflammation and redness in the eye. It may also cause pain, light sensitivity, tearing, and blurred vision. Over time, the virus can cause the cornea to thin and scar. This scarring on the cornea can lead to vision loss and, in rare cases, even blindness.

Fortunately, HSV2-PK can usually be successfully treated with antiviral medications, such as acyclovir and valacyclovir. It is important to promptly seek medical attention for any unusual vision changes or symptoms of HSV2-PK. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent more serious vision loss.

Signs and Symptoms of HSV2-PK

The most common signs and symptoms of HSV2-PK include:

  • Inflammation and redness of the eye
  • Eye pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Tearing
  • Blurred vision
  • Corneal thinning and scarring
  • Vision loss

Diagnosis of HSV2-PK

To diagnose HSV2-PK, your doctor will perform a physical exam, discuss your symptoms, and check your eyes for any signs of inflammation and redness. The doctor may use a slit lamp microscope to look at the surface of your eyes. Corneal swab tests may also be done to look for evidence of the virus. In some cases, your doctor may need to take a sample of your eye’s fluids or cells for further testing.

Treatment of HSV2-PK

HSV2-PK can usually be successfully treated with antiviral medications. The most commonly prescribed medications are acyclovir and valacyclovir. Your doctor may suggest you take the medication for a week or more in order to ensure that the virus is completely cleared from your system.

In addition to medications, your doctor may also recommend that you use artificial tears to keep your eyes lubricated and wear protective, UV-blocking sunglasses whenever you are outside. If your condition is severe, your doctor may suggest wearing an eye patch or a protective contact lens.

Prevention of HSV2-PK

There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of contracting HSV2-PK.

  • Avoid direct contact with anyone who has an active cold sore or herpes infection.
  • Wash your hands often, particularly after touching your eyes or someone else’s eyes.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as makeup, towels, and contact lenses with others.
  • If you have an active cold sore or herpes infection, do not touch your eyes.
  • If you wear contact lenses, it is important to clean them regularly and keep them moist to reduce the risk of infection.