Caused by the type 1 Herpes Simplex Virus, eye herpes (Ocular Herpes) is a common, recurrent viral infection affecting the eyes. This type of herpes virus can cause inflammation and scarring of the cornea that sometimes is referred to as a cold sore on the eye. Herpes of the eye can be transmitted through close contact with an infected person whose virus is active.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) says an estimated 400,000 Americans have experienced some form of ocular herpes, with close to 50,000 new and recurring cases occurring each year.
Researchers supported by DEF have made great progress in understanding the molecular mechanisms of ocular herpes including its latency, reactivation, and scarring. Scientists continue to gain an understanding of LAT, the major virus gene active during herpes latency, including its central role in keeping the virus invisible between attacks and ways in which it inhibits the body’s immune response to the herpes infection.