Shingles or herpes zoster is a virus that causes a painful burning and sometimes itchy blistering rash. Shingles is a reactivation of the varicella zoster virus — the chickenpox virus.
6 Reasons Shingles Can Reemerge in Adulthood
The virus lies dormant in the body after the initial chickenpox infection, but it can reemerge later in life for various reasons, including:
- Diseases of the immune system
- Immune-suppressing medications
How Shingles Can Affect the Eye
Shingles is painful and uncomfortable on any part of the body, but in about 20% of cases it involves nerves of the head, and it can be dangerous to the eye. It can invade the eyelid, surface of the eye, and areas inside the eye.
When shingles affects the eye, the primary symptoms are:
- light sensitivity
- and even loss of vision
When shingles rash develops on the upper face, forehead, and scalp, it is considered herpes zoster ophthalmicus (or HZO). When it involves the cornea, it may lead to keratitis — a condition where the cornea can become painful and inflamed. Corneal ulcers and scarring can result.
Treatment of Shingles and the Eyes
Shingles involving the eye can be treated with antiviral medications, steroids and other medications for pain after infection, known as post-herpetic neuralgia. HZO is a very serious problem. We urge anyone who has shingles on their face to see their ophthalmologist immediately.
If you suspect you have shingles and are living in central New Jersey, contact our office to have your case evaluated by an ophthalmologist. We’ll help ensure the safety of your eyes.