Shingles is a viral infection instigated by the same virus that causes chicken pox. It can create a painful rash on any part of your body. Usually, this looks like a strip of blisters that wraps around either side of your torso.
Up to 20% of shingles cases involve the nerves in your head, which can then spread the infection to your eyelid, eye surface, and even the deeper parts of your eye. If this happens, it’s important to seek medical attention from your eye care professional. Otherwise, permanent damage to your eye and vision can occur.
The best way to avoid an uncomfortable and potentially serious shingles infection is to have your recommended shingles vaccine. This is a safe and easy way to keep yourself healthy!
How Shingles Can Affect the Front of the Eye
If you develop shingles on your upper face, including the forehead and scalp, you should see your vision care specialist for an examination – even if you don’t have any shingles symptoms on your eye. This is because shingles can spread to your cornea. This is called keratitis, and it can develop within one month of your shingles rash.
Keratitis can leave you with numbness of the cornea, scarring that impairs your vision, other corneal damage and infections, and can lead to blindness. When caught early, this infection can usually be treated and permanent damage avoided.
How Shingles Can Affect the Back of the Eye
Shingles can spread deep into your eye to affect the optic nerve and the retina. This type of shingles infection, called viral retinitis, isn’t usually associated with a rash or symptoms on the eye surface. While it is far less common than other types of shingles, it can significantly damage your retina if left untreated.
People who develop this type of shingles are often middle-aged and overall healthy, which is different from other types of shingles. To diagnose this kind of infection, your vision care professional must carefully examine your eye and sometimes take samples to test. Treatment can prevent permanent damage.
Valley Eyecare Center – Your Partner in Excellent Eye Health
Valley Eyecare Center wants to make sure you can enjoy the beauty of the Arizona desert by keeping your eyes healthy and seeing clearly! Contact us today at (602) 955-2700 to schedule an appointment, or visit us online for more information!