Shingles in the Eye Treatment

Generally, when people think of shingles, they picture a blistering rash on the abdomen or the chest. However, a more serious form of shingles can develop around the eye, ear and nose. It is not a very common medical condition, but when the varicella zoster virus attacks the face, the senses are in jeopardy if people don’t seek treatment of shingles right away. Even waiting just a couple of days can be dangerous, Mayo Clinic doctors warn. Shingles can lead to serious consequences, like the need for surgery or blindness if the eye area is affected.

“Time is of the essence with diagnosis and treatment. I tell you, if there’s any suggestion of shingles, you treat hard and treat early,” warns Dr. Keith Baratz, the lead author in a Mayo Clinic study (1976-1998). In the study, 9% of patients who did not seek treatment of shingles suffered serious eye conditions, such as vision loss, eyelid scarring and trichiasis, compared to just 2% of patients who took antiviral medications. Researchers discovered that of the people who were treated, those who came down with glaucoma, eye inflammation, corneal swelling, scarring and blindness sought shingles symptom treatment after 4.8 days. Patients who had none of these conditions received their treatment after 3.8 days, so doctors concluded that waiting even one day can make a huge difference.

The shingles varicella zoster virus sometimes starts with a week of headaches or a strange pain on one side of the face. Fatigue and mild fever often accompany the virus. The skin around the eye becomes tender and a chickenpox-like rash develops. One small lesion or cluster of red spots might appear on the tip of the nose or beneath the eye next. Sometimes sufferers wake up with an eye swelled shut. This rash causes intense itching, eye watering, impaired vision and eye swelling that can be almost unbearable. After a week or so, the blisters usually dry up and fade but there can be long-lasting symptoms if treatment of shingles is not done promptly and effectively.

The treatment of shingles is not very invasive, usually. If caught early (within the first 72 hours of the rash appearance), doctors will prescribe an antiviral medication, like acyclovir or famvir that weakens the virus and reduces the risk of developing serious side effects, like post-herpetic neuralgia, incessant pain or glaucoma and blindness. Prescription eye drops and topical creams help to reduce itchiness and pain both in and around the eye. For seriously inflamed eyes, steroids may be prescribed to reduce the swelling and allow the eye to heal naturally.

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1 Response to “Shingles in the Eye Treatment”

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