Bilateral herpetic keratitis was induced in rabbits and allowed to heal without treatment. A period varying from 150 to 450 days was permitted to elapse, and previously infected, clinically quiescent eyes were treated with locally administered corticosteroids. Steroid therapy, administered topically in both solution and ointment form, and injected by the subconjunctival route, failed to induce a higher incidence of virus reactivation, as determined by culture, than occurred in eyes receiving placebo treatment. In eyes in which virus did reactivate coincident with steroid therapy, no biomicroscopic evidence of corneal disease was observed. That virus had indeed persisted in these eyes and was capable of reactivation was demonstrated by positive cultures following topical administration of epinephrine ointment. These data indicate that in the rabbit, at least, locally administered steroids neither reactivate occult virus nor induce herpetic corneal disease.
Kibrick S, Takahashi GH, Leibowitz HM, Laibson PR. Local Corticosteroid Therapy and Reactivation of Herpetic Keratitis. Arch Ophthalmol. 1971;86(6):694-698. doi:10.1001/archopht.1971.01000010696015