Type I herpes is very contagious and is commonly transmitted by skin contact with someone who has the virus. Almost everyone — about 90 percent of the population — is exposed to Type I herpes, usually during childhood.
After the original infection, the virus lies in a dormant state, living in nerve cells of the skin or eye. Reactivation can be triggered in a number of ways, including:
- Sun exposure
- Trauma to the body (such as injury or surgery)
- Certain medications
Once herpes simplex is present in the eye, it typically infects the eyelids, conjunctiva (the thin, filmy, mucous membrane that covers the inside of the eyelids and the white part of the eye) and cornea (the clear, front window of the eye). It may also infect the inside of the eye; however, this is much less common.
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