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Herpes and Lasik

Important considerations with herpes simplex virus and Lasik, PRK, LASEK, Epi-Lasik, P-IOL, RLE, etc.

Topographical map of a central island after Lasik  
Herpes in all its forms is problematic for Lasik.  

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a latent infection in the human peripheral nervous system that often becomes dormant and reactivates. Oral herpes commonly presented as cold sores in and around the mouth is Type-1 of the virus (HSV-1). Genital herpes often presents as painful fluid-filled blisters in the lower region of the body, but not limited to the genitals and buttocks, is Type-2 herpes (HSV-2)


A person with HSV may not be an appropriate candidate for conventional or custom wavefront Lasik, Bladeless Lasik, PRK, LASEK, Epi-Lasik, or any refractive surgery technique that removes corneal tissue, due to the high probability that these procedures may cause a reoccurrence.

RLE and P-IOL are lens-based procedures that are similarly problematic, but may not as dramaticly affect HSV.

Any elective surgery is contraindicated even if absent of an outbreak in years. The reactivation and replication of latent HSV can be induced by a variety of stimuli including fever, trauma, emotional stress, sunlight, even menstruation. The body may consider refractive surgery as trauma and react accordingly. Reactivation is more frequent and severe in immunocompromised patients.

Herpes Simplex Keratitis

A patient with herpes simplex keratitis, probably should not have an cornea based refractive surgery like Lasik, Bladless Lasik, PRK, LASEK, or Epi-Lasik. Even dormant herpes simplex keratitis can be reactivated by the manipulation of the cornea during these types of refractive surgery

Suppressive Therapy

Many forms of suppressive therapy, including antiviral drugs like acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex), may cause unexpected reactions during refractive surgery and the immediate healing period. The risk of infection is greater in immunosuppressed individuals

Elevated Risk

Patients with HSV have had refractive surgery without reoccurrence or problems, however HSV is a significant elevated risk factor. A detailed and frank discussion of the potential problems with both a general doctor and your refractive surgeon.

Looking For Best Lasik Surgeon?

If you are ready to choose a doctor to be evaluated for conventional or custom wavefront Lasik, Bladeless Lasik, PRK, or any refractive surgery procedure, we recommend you consider a doctor who has been evaluated and certified by the USAEyes nonprofit organization. Locate a USAEyes Evaluated & Certified Lasik Doctor.

Personalized Answers

If this article did not fully answer your questions, use our free Ask Lasik Expert patient forum.

Recent Herpes Medical Journal Articles...

Related Articles

[Lamellar minikeratoplasty for recurrent herpes keratitis in the late post-LASIK period].

Vestn Oftalmol. 2014 Sep-Oct;130(5):60-3

Authors: Trufanov SV, Malozhen SA, Zaĭtsev AV

The article presents a case report of sutureless lamellar minikeratoplasty for progressive corneal ulceration associated with herpes simplex infection in the late period after LASIK.

PMID: 25711064 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


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