Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash on the body and sometimes the face. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.
The shingles virus can reemerge many years after a person has had chickenpox. The risk increases with age, a weakened immune system, and stress.
General Symptoms of Shingles
More generalized symptoms may include:
- painful blisters
- intense tingling or burning pain
- flu-like symptoms
Shingles in the Eyes
In 10-20% of cases, shingles appears in and around the eye. When this occurs, there may be additional symptoms, such as:
- burning or throbbing pain in the eye
- eye redness
- eye irritation
- blurry vision
- extreme light sensitivity
Complications of Shingles in the Eyes
Complications of a shingles infection reaching spreading to the eyes can include:
- swelling in the eyelid
- retinal swelling
- swelling of the cornea
Shingles in the eye is a serious problem because swelling of the cornea can lead to permanent scarring and vision loss. Retinal swelling may also cause loss of vision. In addition, pain due to nerve damage (postherpetic neuralgia) can continue for an extended period of time.
Patients with shingles can also sometimes experience an increase in ocular pressure, which can cause glaucoma and — in turn — lead to blindness.
See Your Eye M.D. if You Suspect Shingles
Patients with symptoms consistent with shingles in or around the eye should see their Eye M.D. immediately.
If you’re in central New Jersey and you suspect you may have a shingles infection that has spread to your eyes, contact our office to set up an immediate appointment. As noted above, this can pose serious long-term problems to your eyesight.