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Does Shingles Affect The Eyes

Check If You Have Shingles

Shingles (Herpes Zoster): How Does It Affect The Eyes?

The first signs of shingles can be:

  • a tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin
  • a headache or feeling generally unwell

A rash will appear a few days later.

Usually you get the shingles rash on your chest and tummy, but it can appear anywhere on your body including on your face, eyes and genitals.

The rash appears as blotches on your skin, on 1 side of your body only. A rash on both the left and right of your body is unlikely to be shingles.

How Eye Shingles Are Treated

You do not have to endure shingles. With the help of your doctor, you can overcome the discomfort and help the outbreak to heal. You can also take some steps to reduce the frequency and severity of your outbreaks.

The key is to get help within three days of the start of an outbreak. That is the moment at which your immune system is still strong but could use a little boost. Antiviral medications can tamp down the virus and send it back to the nerve root, so you will feel a bit more comfortable.

You will still be at risk for future outbreaks, as shingles can’t be cured. But the treatment can keep the excruciating pain and damage at bay.

Your doctor may ask you to spend a few days in the hospital. You will get around-the-clock care for your outbreak, and your doctor can watch the infection carefully and step in if sight-stealing complications appear.

When you are released to your home, there are plenty of things you can do to ease your discomfort. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends:

  • Cool compresses. A moist, damp towel placed over your closed eyes can relieve some of your pain.
  • Painkillers. If your doctor agrees, you can use medications like aspirin to ease distress.
  • Eye drops. Your doctor may suggest soothing drops to help your tissues knit back together.

What Is Herpes Zoster Of The Eye

Herpes zoster, commonly known as “shingles,” is a viral disease that causes a painful skin rash consisting of small fluid-filled blisters that form scabs and can leave permanent scars. When it involves the region that surrounds your eye, it is called herpes zoster ophthalmicus and can cause serious eye problems including corneal ulcers, inflammation, and glaucoma.

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Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 As Soon As You Suspect Shingles

You might need medicine to help speed up your recovery and avoid longer-lasting problems.

This works best if taken within 3 days of your symptoms starting.

111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.

Go to 111.nhs.uk or .

Get an urgent GP appointment

A GP may be able to treat you.

Ask your GP surgery for an urgent appointment.

When Shingles Strikes Your Face

DermHelpCentral: Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus (HZO)

Dozens of muscles line your face, and they help you talk, eat, blink, and wink. All those movements start with nerve impulses, and any nerve band can get hit with a shingles outbreak.

Just one side of the face is touched by the issue, and the blisters will not spread. If you touch the bumps on one side of your face and then touch the other, you can’t spread the problem around. The virus sits within the nerves, far below the skin, and you can’t influence how the infection spreads.

Your shingles may appear on or around your eyelid, and that can make blinking difficult or painful. Sometimes, the tissues swell, and that makes it hard for you to open your eye.

Read Also: Is There A Cure For Shingles

Stay Away From Certain Groups Of People If You Have Shingles

You cannot spread shingles to others. But people who have not had chickenpox before could catch chickenpox from you.

This is because shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus.

Try to avoid:

  • pregnant people who have not had chickenpox before
  • people with a weakened immune system like someone having chemotherapy
  • babies less than 1 month old unless you gave birth to them, as your baby should be protected from the virus by your immune system

When To Seek Medical Advice

Shingles is not usually serious, but you should see your GP as soon as possible if you recognise the symptoms. Early treatment may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and the risk of developing complications.

You should also see your GP if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system and you think you have been exposed to someone with chickenpox or shingles and haven’t had chickenpox before.

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Is There A Cure For Herpetic Eye Disease

At present, there is no “cure” for the infections caused by herpes viruses, only treatments to suppress the infection and reduce inflammation. When treated properly, vision loss can usually be avoided, but it is important to continue to follow up with your doctor at the recommended intervals. In some cases, long-term antiviral pills may be recommended to reduce the chance of repeated episodes of infection. These medications are usually well-tolerated and have very few side effects. Only your doctor can tell you if long-term medication is recommended for your condition.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/12/2019.


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Mayo Clinic Minute: What are eye shingles?

The Mayo Clinic recommends anyone over 50 gets a new shingles vaccine called Shingrix to help prevent the disease and allay symptoms.

Older patients were at far greater risk for HZO, highlighting just how important it is for older adults to get the shingles vaccination, study author Nakul Shekhawat, a comprehensive ophthalmologist at the University of Michigan Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, told Science Daily.

According to the Kellogg Eye Center research, cases of HZO rose substantially across the United States between 2004 and 2016: from 9.4 cases per 100,000 people in 2004 to 30.1 cases per 100,000 by 2016.

In another study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, Kellogg researchers described one route to recovery from eye shingles: corneal transplants that replace the affected tissue entirely.

For the rest of us, a shot of Shingrix is 90% effective in staving off this painful condition, the Kellogg team said.

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What Are Shingles In The Eye

The varicella-zoster virus causes shingles. In many people, the varicella-zoster virus remains dormant, while in others, it activates later. This virus can appear as shingles, a painful rash, several decades after you first encountered chickenpox.

In 10-20% of people who encounter shingles, the rash appears on or around the eye. When the shingles rash appears in the eye, it becomes herpes zoster ophthalmicus, named for its location. Most of the time, shingles do not appear in the eye, but you can have shingles on the eye and nearby facial areas as well as more common parts of your body, like your back or chest.

While most people recover fully after having shingles, eye shingles do present unique problems. The virus can cause problems like vision loss and scarring. It can also have longer-lasting effects on anyone who has a compromised immune system.

Shingles And Nerve Paths

Shingles is caused by a reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox. Only people whove had chickenpox or chickenpox vaccines can develop shingles. Having a chickenpox vaccine can lead to shingles because the vaccine contains the virus that causes chickenpox.

Shingles isnt contagious, but people who have not had chickenpox can develop chickenpox if they come in contact with open blisters of somebody with shingles.

After your body fights off a chickenpox infection, the herpes zoster virus remains dormant in your cranial nerves and spinal ganglia until it becomes reactivated. Spinal ganglia are nerve cells that connect your spinal cord to nerves in your body and limbs.

The virus reactivates when your immune system is no longer able to suppress it. Reactivation most commonly occurs in older adults because the immune system tends to get weaker with age, as well as in people with suppressed immune systems.

Once the virus is active, it usually spreads down sensory nerve fibers that lead from your spinal cord to your skin. These nerves carry sensory information like feelings of pain, itchiness, or pressure from your skin to your spinal cord and brain.

Once the virus gets to the end of these sensory nerves, it reaches your skin and usually leads to a rash. This rash often shows up in one or two nearby areas of skin called dermatomes.

A dermatome is an area of your skin where the sensation is supplied by one spinal nerve.

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Week Two: Possible Infection

It is important to wash your hands, keep the shingles rash and blisters clean and try not to scratch. Scratching blisters can cause infection, says Dr. Bridges. Cellulitis and impetigo are two secondary skin infections associated with shingles. Folks with a compromised immune system are far more likely to also develop these types of infections. If your shingles rash swells, become pus-filled or weeps, these are signs that you have, in fact, gotten a bacterial infection. A topical antibiotic may be prescribed to apply to lesions to treat an infection, says Dr. Bridges, noting that a topical can also help prevent infection.

Diagnosis Of Shingles In The Eye

Herpes Zoster Eye Infection / Shingles in the eye: Symptoms, treatment ...

Your doctor should be able to diagnose shingles just by looking at the rash on your eyelids, scalp, and body. Your doctor might take a sample of fluid from the blisters and send it out to a lab to test for the varicella-zoster virus.

An eye doctor will examine:

  • help the rash fade more quickly

Starting the medicine within three days after your rash appears can help you avoid long-term shingles complications.

To reduce swelling in your eye, your doctor might also give you a steroid medicine in the form of a pill or eye drops. If you develop postherpetic neuralgia, pain medicine and antidepressants can help relieve the nerve pain.

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Not Just A Painful Rash: Shingles Can Damage The Eyes

Hampden Township resident Jeff Hoffnagle was shocked to learn his itchy, watering eye was due to shingles.

Jeff Hoffnagle couldnt think of a reason why his eye was suddenly bloodshot and itchy, but two days later, when it had swelled considerably and gotten very watery, he knew he needed an answer.

A trip to his family doctor yielded a diagnosis of allergies and a prescription for antibiotic drops with a caution to see an eye doctor if it didnt help.

Four days later, after Hoffnagle developed a brownish lesion on his eyelid, he went to an ophthalmologist who, much to Hoffnagles surprise, told him he had shingles.

I absolutely did not know you could get shingles in your eye, said the 51-year-old East Hampden Township resident. When its in the eye, it can be dangerous. My doctor told me I needed to take anti-viral medication twice a day without fail. I got that message loud and clear and I took my medicine religiously.

Chicken pox virus reactivates

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. Anyone who battled the childhood virus is at risk for shingles since the virus lays dormant in nerve cells for years. Most adults dont go on to develop shingles later in life, but, still, it affects about 1 million Americans annually.

Vision loss a danger

Skin lesions can be painful, but when you are talking about potential loss of vision, shingles become scarier, Chotiner said.

Not contagious

Treatment For Shingles In The Eye

When it shows up on the body or the face, shingles are treated with oral medication, said Dr. Schneiderhan. If it appears on the face, but doesnt appear to be spreading to the eye, we watch it. When there is a high risk of getting into the eye, then we begin treating the affected eye with anti-viral drops and closely monitor the eye.

Treatment for herpes zoster is generally prescribed for seven days to two weeks. Left untreated, it can lead to scarring of the eye, loss of vision, or other long-term conditions. While rare, the retina can be affected, there can be different presentations on the front of the eye, or it can even cause inflammation on the inner layers of the cornea.

If you or a family member get shingles on the face or near the eyes, contact our team for treatment.

Also Check: Is Shingles Contagious From Person To Person

How Is Herpes Zoster Diagnosed

Doctors diagnose shingles through a physical clinical exam. They may take a skin sample to test further if the causative factors remain unknown. However, if you have another type of herpes virus, the test will read positive.

Shingles on the face can lead to various eye compilations, including glaucoma and blindness. That makes it important to seek medical intervention from an ophthalmologist if you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles In The Eye

Shingles and the Eyes | Dr. Alan Mendelsohn

When it comes to eye shingles, there is a difference between shingles appearing in the eye versus around the eye. When you have shingles in your eye, you may see them on your sclera .

Shingles in your eye present a higher risk, as it can cause vision problems, including sight loss, even after healing. When the rash appears around your eye, but not in it, doctors refer to it as eye involvement.

Regardless of where it appears, symptoms of shingles typically occur only on one side of the body. That means that even if you have a painful rash in or around one eye, the virus will probably not spread to the other side of your face.

Eye shingles can cause the following symptoms:

  • Facial tingling
  • Red blisters or a rash on the face
  • Eyelid swelling and redness
  • Sensitivity to light

You may also experience more generalized shingles symptoms too, including headache, low-grade fever, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms. Shingles typically start as nerve pain, and you will notice the red rash later on the painful areas.

If you initially get shingles elsewhere on your body, they can spread to your face, even after you begin recovering.

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What Causes Eye Shingles

Before we take a closer look at shingles affecting the eye , lets talk about what causes shingles in the first place: the chickenpox virus.

As an adult, you may have a hazy memory of spending a week in bed, your itchy body dotted in pink calamine lotion as you binged on daytime TV and ate popsicles by the box.

The blisters may be long gone, but the chickenpox virus still lies dormant in your body.

About one in three U.S. adults will get shingles when the varicella-zoster virus that sparked their childhood chickenpox reactivates in the body, according to Mayo Clinic.

Shingles typically starts out as a band of tenderness or tingling on your skin and then turns into a painful rash.

People will tell you, It was the worst pain I ever had, Rapuano says.

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Can You Get Chickenpox In Your Eye

While you can’t get chickenpox in your eye, the same virus which causes chickenpox can cause shingles which you can get in your eye.

Once chickenpox has gone away, the virus lays dormant in the body and can reactivate at any time, causing shingles.

Shingles can affect the facial nerves causing one to experience eye-related symptoms such as shingles in the eye.

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Are Shingles Contagious

Shingles is not a contagious disease, although it can spread the condition when blisters ooze. The varicella-zoster virus, however, is highly contagious and can be spread to people who never have had chickenpox or the vaccine. But it is more likely that they will come down with a case of chickenpox and not shingles.

Is Shingles Contagious

Pin on Herpes Cure

The same virus causes both shingles and chickenpox. If a person contracts the varicella-zoster virus from someone with shingles, they will develop chickenpox, not shingles.

This means that a person with shingles can spread chickenpox to someone who has never had it. A person with shingles can also spread chickenpox to someone with a weakened immune system. People with weakened immune systems can get chickenpox more than once.

The contagious stage of shingles is over when the blisters on the skin have healed. This can take

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What Are The Symptoms

The first signs of shingles are usually pain and a red rash wrapped around either side of the torso. Other symptoms include:

  • Burning, tingling, numbness or sensitivity of the skin
  • Chills, fever, headache, fatigue
  • Pain, which can become very intense
  • Red rash that appears a few days after the pain
  • Fluid-filled blisters

Long Term Side Effects

In rare cases, the live shingles vaccine, Zostavax, can cause a skin rash or shingles.

The rash that occurs with shingles can affect any area of the body, but it often appears as a line of blisters that wraps around the torso.

Within a few days the blisters cluster, and they continue to form for several more days. The blisters can take 2â3 weeks to heal, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Other common symptoms of shingles include:

two shingles vaccines for adults: the recombinant zoster vaccine and the zoster virus vaccine .

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Symptoms Of Eye Shingles

The symptoms of shingles around the eye may be different from the symptoms of eye involvement. Symptoms of shingles around the eye area may include:

  • Tingling on the face

  • Shorten the length of a shingles outbreak

  • Make shingles less painful

  • Reduce chances of persistent nerve pain after the rash resolves

In addition to these overall benefits, prompt treatment of eye shingles with antiviral medication can significantly reduce the risk of vision loss.

Without antiviral medication, 50% of ocular shingles patients will develop eye disorders compared with only 25% of patients who take the medication.

Its crucial to begin taking antiviral medication within 72 hours of the outbreak of the skin rash. It should be started as soon as possible after the rash starts, Rapuano says.

If your doctor diagnoses eye involvement with your case of ocular or facial shingles, you may also need topical eye drops. There are two main types of eye drops for shingles:

  • Corticosteroid eye drops Steroid drops can reduce the eye inflammation caused by shingles, Rapuano says. This lowers the chances of complications from shingles of the eye.

  • Pupil dilating eye drops Your eye doctor also may prescribe eye drops to keep the pupils open for pain relief due to an internal ocular inflammation caused by shingles.

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