Herpes simplex eye infections: clinical manifestations, pathogenesis and management

Surv Ophthalmol. 1976 Sep-Oct;21(2):121-35. doi: 10.1016/0039-6257(76)90090-4.


Herpes infection of the eye may be acquired as the patient's first exposure to the virus (primary infection) or as involvement of a new anatomical site (the eye) in a patient with previous HSV infection. In either case, patients with herpetic eye infection risk recurrent eye disease throughout their lives. The infective lesions of the corneal epithelium (dendritic and geographic ulcers) occasionally develop into noninfective indolent or trophic ulcers, particularly under the influence of cauterizing chemicals or corticosteroids. Inflammation of the corneal stroma may accompany herpetic epithelial lesions or occur independently. Stromal keratitis probably represents the host's immune response to viral antigens filtering down from epithelial lesions or from viral replication in stromal cells. The clinical manifestations of ocular HSV infection are reviewed, pathogenesis and possible pathways of the infection are analyzed, and some practical guidelines for management and prevention are presented.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Blepharitis / etiology
  • Child
  • Conjunctivitis / etiology
  • Cornea / pathology
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Idoxuridine / therapeutic use
  • Infant
  • Keratitis, Dendritic / diagnosis*
  • Keratitis, Dendritic / drug therapy
  • Keratitis, Dendritic / pathology
  • Male
  • Recurrence
  • Uveitis, Anterior / etiology
  • Vidarabine / therapeutic use


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Vidarabine
  • Idoxuridine