We recently saw a young patient in her late 30’s who had blinding herpes in one eye that required multiple corneal transplants. She contracted herpes in college and it eventually destroyed her eye. She was a very pretty girl but after multiple failed corneal transplants and years of drops and frustration, she has given up on her left eye. Her eye used to look like this below, but now looks less red but still has scar tissue on the cornea with some residual eaten up sutures from the last failed corneal transplant. .
It was assumed initially the herpes was due to HSV1, which is oral herpes (the kind of herpes you can get from kissing someone with a cold sore). But a special test from a corneal sample showed the subtype of the virus was HSV 2, which is genital herpes.
Eye surgeons do not routinely test which herpes has cause the eye infection and subsequent corneal scar tissue and vision loss requiring a corneal transplant.
Surprisingly the CDC does not consider Herpes a reportable disease. Thus the statistics the CDC has on it’s website are misleading. It appears they have no idea what the true incidence or prevalence is.
Herpes Simplex can be devastating. Abbreviated HSV for Herpes Simplex Virus, there are 2 strains:
1. HSV 1 which usually occurs around the mouth (‘‘cold sores:’’a term many doctors really dislike as it makes is sound benign/not dangerous when the fact is that these simple “cold sores” can develop on the surface of the cornea and lead to blindness–though reversible ) and
2. HSV 2 (see photos below) which is most often around the genitals: it is almost exclusively transmitted through sexual contact but there are published case reports, as well, of HSV 2 causing corneal scarring.
When people talk about genital herpes they mean it can be caused by type 1 and type 2 herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2). Both strains can destroy the cornea and eyeball but we have no data to tell us how often herpes (genital or oral version) affect the eye.
Both can cause corneas scarring and inflammation in the eye with potentially blinding results.
Herpes Simplex remains the #1 reason for needing a corneal transplant in the US.
Corneal transplant surgery is the most common organ transplant done in the world. And even though our rates of success are excellent and the risks have decreased, it is still an organ transplant which means you will need to put in drops for the rest of your life or risk rejection and another round of surgeries and pain and vision loss.
Global prevalence of genital herpes is rapidly increasing with approximately 140 million people aged 15–49 years infected with genital HSV-1 infection and an estimated 417 million infected with HSV-2 internationally.
We all need to warn young people to avoid sex before marriage. It is possible. It is possible to know your partner very well. It is possible to marry as a virgin. What a radical idea! But one that is possible and sight saving!
Recently a friend told me about a “Rainbow Party” which devastated her high school son it was so traumatic. I had never heard of it before and was shocked to think of how much herpes virus could be spread in such a horrific party.
I found this online about it:
Teachers and parents need to warn their sons and daughters about these horrific “virus spreading” parties and the peer pressure one can suffer to not participate.
I saved the gory photos of syphilis, another STD I have seen affect the eye recently in 2 young people in the form of chronic uveitis: also a potentially blinding disease.
NOTE: Herpes Zoster or Shingles is NOT just Sexually transmitted: it is from the VARICELLA virus that causes Chicken Pox (chicken pox is super contagious from sputum, The virus spreads mainly by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters, and possibly through tiny droplets from infected people that get into the air after they breathe or talk, for example..
The below post by Dr. Vaughn, is a travesty! Could this be malpractice to even tell college students to relax about one of the most devastating STDs out there?
Herpes is a big deal. The anxiety college students could feel about “getting herpes” is nothing compared to the true anxiety, depression, and despair that occurs in students who contract herpes.
I am perplexed of why he would post this. Was this even challenged by anyone?