What Is The Outlook
If you have a particularly severe case of shingles, it could take months to go away. It can also become a long-term problem for some people. If you have postherpetic neuralgia, you may need to see your doctor more often.
Complications that involve the eye or ear may require ongoing care, especially if you have lingering vision or hearing problems.
Most people have shingles only once, but it can recur. This is more likely to happen if you have a weakened immune system.
If you havent had any major complications, your symptoms should clear up within a matter of weeks with few, if any, lasting effects.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed
If you have symptoms of shingles, especially if they involve your face, see your doctor or ophthalmologist right away.
Doctors can usually diagnose a shingles rash by performing a physical exam. Your doctor can also take a scraping of your skin rash and send it to a lab for examination under a microscope.
Its particularly important to seek treatment if you have a compromised immune system. Early treatment can help cut down on your chances for serious complications.
Shingles will have to run its course, but quite a few treatment options are available. These include:
- antiviral drugs
Reduce Your Risk Of Exposure To Eye Herpes
There are no clear ways to prevent the spread of herpes keratitis, but there are some steps you can take to keep your eyes safe.
- If you have cold sores, avoid touching your eyes. Wash your hands after you touch your lips during an outbreak to prevent spreading the virus to other areas.
- Do not share eye drops or eye makeup with others. The herpes virus can be transferred this way.
- Keep your contact lenses clean, as recommended by your optometrist. If you experience a herpes outbreak, throw out that pair of contacts.
If you are cautious, you can avoid transferring the virus to other areas of your body. It does take vigilance during outbreaks.
In the first year after contracting eye herpes, 20 percent of people will experience a recurrence of symptoms. If outbreaks become frequent, they can be managed with regular, often daily, medication. Otherwise, your doctor will prescribe medication that you will take only as needed, during your less frequent outbreaks.
For some people, the outbreaks are more frequent and more severe initially. Then, they stabilize over time and become less frequent.
While you may never need medication to treat eye herpes, it is important to get an appropriate diagnosis if you experience the symptoms listed above. Having more than one outbreak puts you at risk for scarring inside your cornea and other parts of your eye, which can lead to serious vision loss over time.
Recommended Reading: What Can Cause A Shingles Outbreak
What Does Shingles In The Eye Look Like
Shingles in the eye often affects just one eye or one side of the face.
The infection typically starts with pain in or around the eyes. It can develop into a red rash on the skin, then into lesions or fluid-filled blisters. These blisters eventually scab or crust.
The lesions may appear on:
- the eyelid or periocular skin, the skin around the eye
- the retina, the thin layer at the back of the eyeball
- the cornea, the transparent, front-facing part of your eye
Outlook For People With Shingles In The Eye
Your shingles rash should heal within one to three weeks. Symptoms around your face and eyes can sometimes take up to a few months to heal.
In the early stages of the disease, your doctor will check you every few days. After youve received treatment for the infection, youll probably need to see your eye doctor every 3 to 12 months to check for glaucoma, scarring, and other long-term problems that can affect your vision.
Also Check: What Is The Disease Called Shingles
Treatments For Ocular Shingles
The treatment for shingles around the eye is the same as treatment for shingles on any other area of the body. Three antiviral drugs have been approved for treatment of shingles.
These drugs can:
Shorten the length of a shingles outbreak.
Make shingles less painful.
Reduce the chances of post-herpetic neuralgia, a complication that can cause ongoing pain and sensitivity after the rash resolves.
In addition to these overall benefits, prompt treatment with antiviral medication can cut in half the incidence of eye disorders in ocular shingles.
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.
How Do You Prevent It
You cannot get shingles without first having had chickenpox. For this reason, you should vaccinate children and adults who have not yet had the varicella-zoster virus.
If you have had chickenpox, you should get the shingles vaccine. While the virus that causes both is the same, the shingles vaccine is more potent and will prevent you from encountering the secondary illness. If you are over age 50, you should get the shingles vaccine.
If you do get shingles, avoid contact with other people, especially if they have never had chickenpox or are pregnant, or have a weakened immune system.
Cover your rash to avoid spreading the virus, and do not touch your eye. While touching different parts of your body after touching the rash will not necessarily spread it, you should take every precaution to keep it contained. Avoid scratching the rash site, and wash your hands when you do have to touch it.
If you already have shingles, you cannot determine where the blisters will appear. Just as touching your eye may not make it spread, it may reach your eye, depending on where it travels along your nerves.
Also Check: How Long Does Shingles Rash Last
Can You Get Shingles More Than Once
Although possible, its rare to experience shingles more than once. In a 2019 study , researchers found the reoccurrence rate of shingles was 5.3 percent over an average of a 4.4-year follow-up period.
The researchers found that experiencing shingles that lasted more than 30 days significantly increased the risk of reoccurrence. Other risk factors were:
- being 51 to 70 years old
- having shingles lasting longer than 90 days
- having a blood cancer, an autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, or dyslipidemia
Herpes Zoster And The Eye
Herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles, is caused by the same virus responsible for chicken pox.
After being infected with chicken pox as a child, the virus remains in your body in an inactive or dormant stage. Later in life, the virus can be reactivated if your bodys immune system breaks down. This may happen due to the normal aging process or a number of other factors, including:
- Illness, such as HIV
- Certain medications
What are the symptoms of herpes zoster?
The herpes zoster virus lies in a quiet or dormant period in nerve cells. When the virus is reactivated, the first symptoms are pain, itching and tingling of the skin, followed by redness, numbness and development of a rash. The rash develops into small, fluid-filled blisters called vesicles that later break open and form crusty scabs. The outbreak of shingles typically lasts for a few weeks, but in severe cases, the rash can leave permanent scars, pain, numbness or skin discoloration.
If nerves of the eye are infected with herpes zoster, symptoms may also occur in the eye.
How does herpes zoster affect the eye?
A herpes zoster rash develops blisters that break open and form crusty scabs.
The herpes zoster virus can cause numerous eye problems, including:
More severe complications include glaucoma, cataract formation, double vision, and scarring of the eyelids and cornea .
How are eye symptoms treated?
Treatment for rash, inflammation, burning and pain may include the following:
- Cool compresses
Read Also: What R The Symptoms Of Shingles
Examination By The General Practitioner
In ophthalmic zoster, diagnostics in general practice is restricted to history taking and a physical examination. The diagnostic possibilities during the prodromal phase are manifold until the typical skin signs become manifest. Doctors should always be on the alert for involvement of the eye. The appearance of skin lesions along the side of the nose, which represents the dermatome of the nasociliary nerve, is a useful prognostic factor for subsequent ocular inflammation in patients with acute ophthalmic zoster .16 General practitioners are often advised to focus their attention only on the tip of the nosethe dermatome of the external branch. The nasociliary dermatome, however, is more extensive and also affects the skin at the inner corner of the eye and the root and side of the nose .17
How Can You Care For Yourself At Home
- Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over- the-counter medicine.
Also Check: Do You Need A Shingles Shot Every Year
When To Contact A Doctor
Its important to visit your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have shingles, especially if youre somebody at an increased risk of developing it.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends visiting a dermatologist or other healthcare professional within 3 days to prevent long-term complications.
Shingles typically clears up within a few weeks and does not commonly recur. If your symptoms have not lessened within 10 days, contact a doctor for a follow-up and reevaluation.
Cause Of Herpes Zoster Opthalmicus
The cause of Shingles is pretty straightforward and starts with a chickenpox infection. If as a child you once suffered from chickenpox, then the virus that affected you and led you to develop chickenpox, the virus known as varicella zoster still lives inside your body even though you have recovered from the disease.
When you fall sick and get chickenpox due to the varicella zoster virus, your bodys immune system responds by attacking and getting rid of the disease causing agent in the body . For some reason, not all the varicella zoster virus in your body is completely destroyed nor eliminated. Some virus remains in your body, under the watchful eye of the bodys immune system. The bodys immune system, when in tip top condition, makes sure that the hazardous varicella zoster virus is kept under check and is prevented from multiplying and growing out of control.
The varicella living in your body, resides in the nerve tissue, particularly in the dorsal root ganglion of the body. The virus is living there in a dormant or non-active form and is not interfering with any of the normal body functions.
However, the tables turn the minute the bodys immune system is compromised whether voluntarily or involuntarily and the virus is given an opportunity to multiply unchecked because the immune system is too weak to fight the virus.
Read Also: Do You Get A Rash With Shingles
How Can You Care For Ocular Shingles At Home
- Make sure to follow the medical advice of your doctor regarding prescriptions
- Avoid scratching or picking at any blisters
- Use a cold compress to relieve pain and itching
- Wait until the blisters have healed before you have close contact with people and avoid anybody most at risk such as pregnant women, young babies and those with a weakened immune system. The blisters contain the chicken pox virus which can be spread
Shingles Of The Eye Can Cause Lasting Vision Impairment
- By Miriam Barshak, MD, Contributor
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a viral infection known for its characteristic painful, burning, or itchy rash. This rash appears along a particular affected nerve, for example in a band on one side of the chest or abdomen that extends around to the back. In fact, the name shingles comes from cingulum, the Latin word for girdle, belt, or sash.
Shingles is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox. After the initial chickenpox infection resolves the virus lives on in nerves all over the body, but is kept in check by the immune system. The risk of shingles therefore increases with any process that can weaken the immune system, including age, illness, and immune-suppressing medications. About one million cases of shingles occur in the US each year.
Up to 20% of shingles episodes involve nerves of the head, where the infection can affect various parts of the eye, including the eyelid, the eye surface, and the deeper portions of the eye. Viral infection of the eye can cause pain, drainage, redness, and sensitivity to light. In some cases it can lead to vision impairment, including blindness.
You May Like: How Long To Get Rid Of Shingles
How Can You Prevent Spreading The Virus
You cant give shingles to someone else, but the varicella-zoster virus is very contagious. If you have shingles and you expose someone else who has not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, you can give them the virus. Theyll get chickenpox, not shingles, but this puts them at risk for shingles later on.
Youre contagious when your blisters are oozing, or after they break and before they crust over. Do the following to avoid spreading the virus to others:
- Keep your rash covered, especially when the blisters are active.
- Try not to touch, rub, or scratch your rash.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
Avoid contact with people whove never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, especially:
Can Eye Shingles Cause Blindness
For example, eye shingles can cause:
A corneal dendrite which may lead to a scar
In the most severe cases of eye shingles, a patient may need a corneal transplant.
Eye shingles is not contagious. It cannot be spread to another person.
However, a person who has shingles-related rash anywhere on their body can transmit chickenpox virus to someone who hasn’t already had chickenpox or been vaccinated for the condition.
Also Check: How Does Shingles Look When It First Starts
Prevention Of Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus
A w recombinant shingles vaccine Herpes Zoster Vaccine There are two herpes zoster vaccines. The newer herpes zoster vaccine is preferred over the older herpes zoster vaccine because it provides better and longer-lasting protection. The newer vaccine… read more is recommended for healthy people aged 50 or over, regardless of whether they have had chickenpox or shingles or been given the older herpes zoster vaccine. The recombinant vaccine is effective in more than 90% of people, whereas the older vaccine was effective in 50% of people.
Shingles In The Eye: Causes Symptoms Prevention & Treatments
If youve had the chickenpox virus as a child, you could develop shingles later in life. Shingles can appear anywhere on your body and cause complications, including in your eyes.
Shingles in eye areas can affect vision, along with the other painful and potentially dangerous symptoms that come with the virus. If you have symptoms of shingles, talk to your doctor for treatment options.
Also Check: What Does Shingles Look Like On Your Face
Signs And Symptoms Of Shingles
Shingles is not an easy disease to classify in its initial stage with most physicians opting to wait and see if the defining band of rash does not appear. Once the band of rash appears, then the doctors can surmise and conclude almost immediately that the patient is indeed suffering from herpes zoster. Of course the doctors assumptions must always be double checked to confirm before proceeding with treatment, so swabs are taken from the patients affected areas and sent to the laboratory for further testing. The name of the test that checks for the presence of the varicella virus in the body is the Tzanck Test. Once the test results are back then the doctor can make a more informed decision about the way forward and which prescription medications to recommend and give based also on the patients history.
Understanding what causes Shingles
Is Shingles In The Eye An Emergency
Shingles, and shingles in the eye, can be serious conditions. Both conditions can require emergency assistance.
Shingles is especially serious in the following groups of people:
- pregnant people
- infants less than 1 month old
- people with a weakened immune system
Additionally, shingles in the eye can result in vision impairment or loss. The risk of vision impairment increases without prompt treatment.
Seek immediate medical help for any symptoms with shingles, vision problems, or eye lesions. An early diagnosis increases the chance of successful treatment.
Recommended Reading: Can Stress Bring On Shingles