Shingles Virus is Dangerous to Eyes and Vision

December 5, 2013

Shingles Virus Eye

Shingles of the eye (herpes zoster ophthalmicus) can be a devastating problem.  The shingles virus lives in the nerves in people who have had chickenpox. 

The virus can be activated by numerous causes.  Where on the body it appears depends on which nerves the virus travels along from the central nervous system to the surface.  If the first branch of the trigeminal nerve is affected the initial problem can be an itching or burning rash of one side of the top of the head and down onto the forehead. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for certain facial sensations and movements such as biting and chewing.

Eye Shingles

This can extend down to involve the eyelids, the side of the nose and the eyeball itself.  It can cause severe inflammation of the surface and more importantly the inside of the eye.  If this is not caught early and treated with cortisone, it can cause severe inflammation of the iris and/or the cornea that can lead to blindness if not treated.  The takeaway is to see an ophthalmologist if shingles occurs on the top of the head and forehead.

 

Jeffrey D. Gold, MD, FACS 

Medical Director

Eye Care LLC/Liberty Vision