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Question about ocular herpes


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Hi I am new to this forum and have some questions about ocular herpes. I have been trying to find answers on Goggle but it just basic info and facts (as well as the usual scare stories). I have had HSV-1 for the last 30 odds years (I am 51 now). In that time I have only ever had outbreaks of single cold sores on my mouth lips and inside my nose. I never actually knew you could get ocular herpes until I read something about it last week (oh how ingnornace was bliss). Anyway since reading about this I have become extremely anxiuos and worried to the point of not being able to sleep properly that I am going to get ocular herpes. So the questions I want to ask are

1. Is it possible to spread the herpes from my lip/nose to my eyes i.e. by touching the cold sore then rubbing my eye. I have read differing opinions on autoinoculation some say it is possible others say it is not due to antibodies you already have to HSV-1 preventing its spread to another area.

2. Would just touching a cold sore then your just touching or rubbing your eye contain enough viral load for transfer?

3. Is it ok to splash cold water onto your face when you have an active cold sore. Is there a chance of the water splashing the virus into the eyes (to date this has never happend to me) but am curious if it is a possibility.

4. As I have had HSV-1 for so long and it has only ever given me cold sores on my lips/nose is there still a chance I could get it in the eye's. Or is it more likely that my outbreaks will keep recurring in the same place as usual lips/nose.

5. Is it common for those who suffer with oralfacial HSV-1 to get ocular herpes 

.Thanks for taking the time to read my questions and I hope for some answers as I have got myself into too much worry about this that it is impacting my daily life.

Cheers Owain

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Hello @silvercat

Thanks for your patience ❤️ I hope you have been well and haven't been too stressed!

First, please know that ocular herpes is rare, especially if you already have HSV in another part of the body (orally, for example) since your body has the antibodies to prevent yourself from passing it to other parts of your body. So, rest assured, you most likely are okay ❤️ 

To answer your questions...

1. Is it possible to spread the herpes from my lip/nose to my eyes i.e. by touching the cold sore then rubbing my eye. I have read differing opinions on autoinoculation some say it is possible others say it is not due to antibodies you already have to HSV-1 preventing its spread to another area.

Hypothetically, it is possible, but unlikely. Your body has antibodies which protect you from autoinoculating yourself. You would need to touch/rub a cold sore and then touch your eye and really intentionally try to give it to yourself, and of course you wouldn't do that!Passing HSV to yourself is really only an issue for those with autoimmune illnesses or those who take medication that lowers their immune system. Also, for those who have just acquired HSV, if it is before 12+ weeks (the time it typically takes for your body to build up sufficient/detectable amounts of antibodies), you can give yourself HSV. Basically, you should be good 🙂 

2. Would just touching a cold sore then your just touching or rubbing your eye contain enough viral load for transfer?

Similarly to number one's answer, even if it did have enough viral load for hypothetical transfer, your body should be able to protect you from autoinoculation. Infection depends on a few factors, including the viral load, such as skin thickness/if the area has a mucous membrane. For example, a high viral load may not infect the thick skin of the palms but infect the think mucous membrane of the mouth. So, this is a great question, and I am so sorry I don't have a specific answer!

3. Is it ok to splash cold water onto your face when you have an active cold sore. Is there a chance of the water splashing the virus into the eyes (to date this has never happend to me) but am curious if it is a possibility.

You should be fine 🙂. HSV prefers dry environments, and while the virus can use water/fluids as a "lazy river" to travel, it doesn't live in water and likely couldn't penetrate the skin if you're washing your face since it would get washed away. 

4. As I have had HSV-1 for so long and it has only ever given me cold sores on my lips/nose is there still a chance I could get it in the eye's. Or is it more likely that my outbreaks will keep recurring in the same place as usual lips/nose.

No, that is very very very unlikely. It is likely you will continue getting all recurring outbreaks in the usual location(s).

5. Is it common for those who suffer with oralfacial HSV-1 to get ocular herpes 

No, I don't think so. I tried to find statistics on those who have HSV-1 orally and how many of those people also have ocular HSV, but I was unable to find the statistics

Sometimes, we can feel comforted about things by thinking about the worst case scenario and making a plan in case it happens. For example, let's say someone does get ocular HSV. Well, there are many treatments to help manage it. There are specific eye-drops that help reduce the inflammation and pain and swelling, and of course taking antivirals helps reduce outbreaks, which helps reduce eye damage.

Bottom Line: Rest assured, all is well. Practicing hygiene and washing your hands after touching a sore, coupled with the fact that your body has antibodies to protect you from infections helps reduce the risk of transmission significantly. Stay calm and let those worries go. If you need more reassurance or have questions, you could ask your doctor to refer you to speak with a virologist. Let your worries go and focus on things that make you happy 🙂 !! Reach out of you need any more support!!

Sending blessings and prayers of happiness and peace your way!

grace

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