Herpes Zoster Eye Infection

What is Herpes Zoster Eye Infection?

Herpes Zoster is a disease caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. You can only get shingles if you have had chickenpox at some point in your life.
Shingles causes painful blisters near the nerves on one side of your body. It can develop to your face and eyes. The virus can cause acute damage to your eyes. Early detection and immediate care can help reduce the likelihood of serious complications from Herpes Zoster Eye Infections.

If you ever had chickenpox, you are at high risk of developing shingles later in life. After recovering from chickenpox, the chickenpox virus remains in your body. The virus may become active again if your immune system weakens due to:

  • Aging. People over 50 years of age are more prone to the development of shingles.
  • If you have AIDS or Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Undergone chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • You take away certain medications like steroids
  • You are at higher risk of developing shingles if in the last days/weeks/months:
    • You had enough stress
    • You had a constantly poor diet
    • Great exposure to the sun

A person who has shingles can transmit chickenpox to a person who has never been in contact with the chickenpox virus. The virus is transmitted by contact with blisters. Blisters are no longer infectious once they dry up and become scabs.

Symptoms of Herpes Zoster Eye Infection generally appear in three stages:

  • Premature stage: Sharp pain, itching or burning sensation on the forehead, eyelids, tip or sides of the nose.
  • Break out stage: Approximately 3 to 5 days after the onset of symptoms of the early stage, blisters may appear on the forehead, on or inside the eyelids, on the edge or on the sides of the nose. Blisters start clean with redness around the bottom of the blisters. Throughout 5 to 7 days the clear blisters will turn into pus or begin to bleed. The virus can simply affect the facial area or cause obvious symptoms in the eyes such as:
    • Swelling of the eyelids
    • Red, sore, watery eyes
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Blurred vision
    • Feeling that there is something in your eye or under the eyelid
  • Some people simply show symptoms in the eyes and without blisters.
  • Recovery stage: Blisters begin to harden and heal within 1 to 3 weeks, and the discomfort or irritation usually subsides in 3 to 5 weeks. If the virus causes nerve damage, you may have discomfort, lack of sensation or tingling for months or even years after the rash has healed.

Your ophthalmologist will ask about your medical history and your symptoms and take a look at your skin and eyes. If you have fluid from blisters, he can send samples of the fluid to a laboratory to check for the virus.

Some drugs are useful for the treatment of Herpes Zoster Eye Infections. Your ophthalmologist can:
Give you antiviral medicine to reduce discomfort and help with the healing of blisters.
Give you steroid medication to reduce discomfort and reduce swelling.

Most children receive vaccines to protect themselves from the chickenpox virus. If you have never had chickenpox, you can get a vaccine to prevent yourself from the disease.
There is also a vaccine against shingles that can be taken for people 50 years and older. It is highly recommended for those who are 60 years of age or older.
The vaccine can help you stay clear or reduce the symptoms of shingles. It cannot be used to treat shingles after you have the disease.
If you have not received the vaccine against chickenpox vaccination and have never had the disease, try to stay away from people who may have an active chickenpox infection. If you are pregnant, do not approach someone with chickenpox or shingles.

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