Consultant Ophthalmologist,
Cataract & Refractive Surgeon

BMedSci BM BS MRCS MRCSEd MRCOpth FRCOphth MMedLaw PgD Cataract & Refractive Surgery

Dendritic Ulcer (also Herpes Simplex Keratitis)

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What's going on?

This is a cold sore (herpes) virus infection of the corneal (the clear window at the front of the eye). You will usually have had some exposure to the herpes virus in the past and you may suffer or have suffered from cold sores. The virus can never be killed unfortunately and so it lies dormant in the nerves to the eye and can reactivate causing the ulcer.

What will my ophthalmologist see?

We will probably put some yellow dye on the eye and examine you with the slit lamp to see the ulcer.

What will my ophthalmologist do for me?

Treatment with antiviral ointment five times a day should clear it up for you. You will require follow-up to make sure it has gone completely.

What can I do?

Use the treatment given.

What do I need to know?

If you have multiple episodes some scarring can be left behind which may impair your vision. You need to ensure that you are treated quickly to stop this scarring. The virus can never be eliminated, and thus a future recurrence is a definite possibility. It can occur when you are run down or have another illness or it could just be bad luck to get it. Sometimes it you have it bad over and over we can consider giving you a long term treatment with oral antivirals to prevent potentially worsening scarring and vision loss.