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Dangerous viruses: eye sores can destroy the cornea
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), two out of three people are infected with herpes viruses. Some infected people experience regular outbreaks of herpes in the mouth. The pathogens can also affect other parts of the body, for example the cornea. This can quickly damage the eye.
Many don't notice their infection
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), more than 85 percent of Germans are infected with herpes viruses, and the majority do not even notice it. The viruses often only become active through certain influences such as stress or strong sunlight and lead to the known blisters on the mouth. But in some people, the viruses also affect the cornea. The eye can then be quickly damaged.
Parents often infect their children
It often happens already in infancy: Parents transmit herpes viruses to the baby when kissing good night. This can be dangerous for certain groups of people: Herpes is a fatal danger for newborns, because in some cases the brain can become inflamed.
The herpes viruses can also become really dangerous on the eyes, and not only in small children.
The infection often goes unnoticed at first, reports the news agency dpa. However, the viruses then retreat to the brain and strike again later.
Important to know: "There are two types of herpes simplex virus, type 1 and type 2. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV 1) is responsible for most cases of herpes in the face / lip area", the RKI writes on his Website.
"Infection with HSV 1 (face / lip area) can occur from childhood through close physical contact e.g. between mother and child, between siblings or playmates, ”said the experts.
Infection less common on the eye than on the lip
"The first infection with type 1 herpes simplex viruses on the eye is less common than on the lip," explained Prof. Thomas Reinhard, medical director of the Ophthalmology Clinic at the University Medical Center Freiburg in the dpa report.
"If the viruses return to the eye, they can destroy the cornea within a short time."
After the first infection in the brain, the viruses wait for the wearer to have a weakened immune system, for example, and then return to the site of the initial infection.
According to the information, the viruses in the eye usually infect the outer layer (epithelium) and inner layer (endothelium) of the cornea. The body responds to the infection with an immune response that also damages the cornea.
As the agency report states, the cornea, as a kind of windshield for the eye, is actually responsible for protecting the inside of the eye. If it is destroyed, blindness threatens.
Ocular herpes often looks like conjunctivitis
However, the problem is that the first infection with herpes on the eye is difficult to detect. "A typical sign is blisters on the edge of the eyelid," explained Reinhard.
If parents observe something like this in their offspring, they must go to the ophthalmologist immediately. With the help of medication, this can in some cases prevent an infection from coming back later.
Herpes on the eye usually looks like conjunctivitis. The ophthalmologist often only determines that it is herpes viruses when the infection returns.
People who are known to have ocular herpes should go to the specialist as soon as they get a slight reddening or if it even scratches a little. The infection is usually treated with acyclovir tablets or ointment, and in most cases cortisone ointment or drops.
As stated in the report, herpes simplex virus type 1 is not always behind the disease. Cytomegaly viruses, Epstein-Barr viruses and the chickenpox pathogen Varizella zoster viruses can also affect the eye. (ad)