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Herpes simplex keratitis (HSK) is a major cause of corneal blindness in the world. Following the primary infection, the virus enters into a latent phase. Recurrent infectious or immune keratitis cause structural damage to the cornea, scarring, and may lead to blindness. Several commercially available topical and oral antiviral drugs for HSK are currently available. However, toxicity and low patient compliance hamper their use in HSK. Further, oral antiviral drugs alone are not always effective in HSK. Thus, there had been a need for safe and effective topical antiviral agents against HSK. Systemic ganciclovir has been in use for the treatment of cytomegalovirus infections. Recently, topical ganciclovir has become available for use in patients with HSK. Ganciclovir 0.15% ophthalmic gel has been shown to be both safe and effective against viruses of the herpes family. Topical ganciclovir ophthalmic gel is well tolerated and does not cause significant toxic effects on the ocular surface. Several multicenter studies have revealed the potential role of ganciclovir ophthalmic gel in the treatment and prophylaxis of epithelial HSK. In this paper, we have reviewed the pharmacology, efficacy, side effects, and the role of ganciclovir ophthalmic gel 0.15% in the treatment of acute herpetic keratitis.
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