Shingles in the Eye: Symptoms and Treatment

Caucasian man with eye pain.

If you’ve ever had the chickenpox, there is a chance you may develop shingles. Shingles is a painful rash caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus. This rash will break out across one side of the body with a burning or tingling sensation. It may also cause flu-like symptoms. There are more 200,000 cases in the United States each year. If you develop shingles, it is possible for the rash to appear on your face, and can even get into your eyes.

If shingles develops on your face, pay close attention to your eyes. Shingles in the eyes can create serious vision problems.  The ocular surface can become swollen and inflamed, causing pain and blurry vision.  Corneal ulcers can also develop and may lead to permanent scarring.   The virus may even damage the corneal nerves causing chronic problems with ocular healing.

Signs of Shingles in the Eye

Shingles in the eye is called herpes zoster ophthalmicus. Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Redness and swelling around the eyelids
  • Irritated and itchy eyes
  • Blistering on the upper eyelid, typically on one side of the face
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity

These are all signs that you may have shingles in your eye; however, they can also be representative of other eye conditions. Whether you have shingles or not, you should see an ophthalmologist immediately.

Treatment for Shingles in the Eye

With a simple eye examination, your doctor can determine if you have shingles in your eye. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, you will be prescribed an antiviral medication. This medication can be in a liquid or tablet form and should be taken as soon as possible for the best results. Eye drops may also be recommended to reduce any inflammation.

Shingles in the eye can cause severe complications and must be addressed promptly. If you’ve had shingles in the past, or believe you may currently have shingles and are experiencing any of these symptoms, the experts at Eye Specialists of Louisiana are to help.