When To See An Eye Doctor For Shingles

Shingle is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus which is the same virus causing chicken pox. Shingles are manifested by painful, blistering rash that forms on the body and other times on the face. Once a person acquires chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus remains in the system and can reemerge after many years as shingles.

10 -20 percent of people with shingles, the rash appears in and around the eyes. This shingles type is known as the ophthalmic herpes zoster.  When they appear in the eye, shingles can cause scarring, loss of vision and other long-term problems. Shingles can get into the eye if there is an infection in the facial nerves.

Symptoms of shingles presence in the eye

When experiencing shingles in the eye, the blistering rash forms on the eyelids, on the tip or inside the nose, and on the forehead. It is possible that this rash shows up at the same time as the skin rash or in other cases, a few weeks after the blisters on the skin have healed. Other people will have the symptoms only in their eyes. Other symptoms that you will experience along with the rash include:

   Swelling and reddening  of the eyelids

   Eye pain

   Light sensitivity

   Watery eyes

   Blurred vision

   Swelling in the retina and cornea

Shingles Risk Factors

The main risk factors for shingles are:

   If you had chickenpox when young- the virus remains dormant within your systems and becomes active once you get older.

   A person at the age of 50- their bodies have weak immune system

   People with weak immune systems because of illnesses like HIV/AIDS, Cancer

   Persons with stress

Shingles in the eye can be quite painful. The rash fades after a few weeks, but the pain can go on for the next few weeks or months. This is a result of postherpetic neuralgia which is the damage of the nerves. When shingles appear in the eye, they may cause a severe swelling on the cornea and retina. It can also increase in eye pressure and cause glaucoma. There is a need to treat shingles in the eye early to avoid permanent damages.

When diagnosing shingles in the eye, the doctor looks at the rash on the eyelids, scalp, and body. A fluid sample from the blisters can also be taken to test for the varicella-zoster virus. Any swelling and damage that occurs on the lens, cornea and retina are also keenly observed.

Treatment of Shingles in the eye

The primary treatment for shingles in the eyes is antiviral medications. These are in the form of pills, or drops or a combination of both. It is recommended that the treatment is started right away to ensure that it is effective. Your doctor might also prescribe drops to stop inflammation and dilate the pupil, which can assist in relieving pain.

The right time for you to see a doctor for shingles in the eye is when they appear on the skin. Do not wait until they get in the eye so that you seek the help of a professional. Most specifically, shingles can pose a risk to pregnant women, infants and people with low immunity.