What is the pathophysiology of recurrent herpes simplex virus (HSV) keratitis?

Updated: Jan 18, 2019
  • Author: Jim C Wang (王崇安), MD; Chief Editor: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS  more...
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Recurrent ocular HSV infection has traditionally been thought of as reactivation of the virus in the trigeminal ganglion, which migrates down the nerve axon to produce a lytic infection in ocular tissue. Evidence suggests that the virus may also subsist latently within corneal tissue, serving as another potential source of recurrent disease and causing donor-derived HSV disease in transplanted corneas. However, corneal HSV latency as a cause of recurrent disease remains controversial.

A prospective, multicenter trial failed to find an association between anecdotal environment triggers (eg, stress, systemic infections, sunlight exposure, menstruation, contact lens wear, eye injury) and ocular HSV recurrence. [6, 7, 8]

HSV reactivation with the use of latanoprost has been reported in patients with glaucoma. HSV reactivation has also been associated with the use of systemic, local, and topical steroid medications, including intravitreal triamcinolone injection. [9]

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