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December 1971

Local Corticosteroid Therapy and Reactivation of Herpetic Keratitis

Author Affiliations

From the departments of microbiology and medicine (Drs. Kibrick and Laibson) and ophthalmology (Drs. Takahashi and Leibowitz), and the Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Laboratory, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston. Dr. Laibson is now with the Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1971;86(6):694-698. doi:10.1001/archopht.1971.01000010696015

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.