How are the corneal vesicles of infectious epithelial keratitis characterized?

Updated: Jan 18, 2019
  • Author: Jim C Wang (王崇安), MD; Chief Editor: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS  more...
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The earliest sign of active viral replication in the corneal epithelium is the development of small, raised, clear vesicles that are analogous to the vesicular eruptions seen in mucocutaneous herpes infection elsewhere in the body. These infectious epithelial vesicles are rarely seen or recognized during a patient's first presentation. However, in patients with a known history of HSV keratitis, infectious epithelial vesicles may be observed even in the absence of any clinical symptoms.

Within several hours, the corneal vesicles coalesce into a dendritic pattern. In some patients, particularly patients who are immunocompromised, the recurring infection may be arrested at the vesicle stage. As the disease progresses, a central epithelial defect develops. The resultant dendritic ulcer is the most common presentation of HSV keratitis.

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