How to Treat Shingles of the Eye

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If shingles spreads to your eye, you need to be seen promptly by an ophthalmologist. Avoid the complications of shingles of the eye with help from an ophthalmologist in this free video on eye problems.

Part of the Video Series: Eye Problems
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. Richard Cohn from The Cohn Eye Center in Maitland, Florida, and today we are going to talk about shingles of the eye. Shingles comes from the Varicella Zoster virus, or the chicken pox virus. When we get chicken pox as a child, the virus stays dormant for decades after the condition goes away. Later, when we are older, and usually when our immune system is not in full gear, the virus can reactivate, and usually when it does so it activates in one nerve throughout the body. For instance, the nerves on the side or nerves in the shoulder or the nerves in the forehead. If the forehead becomes involved, we will see pustules or little blisters form on the forehead along with redness and discomfort. This needs to be seen promptly by your family medical doctor because there are oral antiviral medications that can be started, which will help to prevent involvement of the eye. We typically see involvement in the eye in approximately 30 percent of people with forehead involvement. If the eye becomes involved, the patient will experience sensitivity to light, redness and possibly decreased vision. This needs to be seen very promptly by the ophthalmologist. Eye problems include inflammation inside of the eye with circulating white blood cells, as well as high eye pressure. Late complications include cataract formation and even scarring of the cornea that can lead to decreased vision. Treatment is usually with steroid eye drops to decrease inflammation, as well as eye drops to help lower the eye pressure. Usually within a few weeks, this improves significantly. Serious problems like scarring of the cornea could eventually lead to the need for a corneal transplant. Pain in the forehead may persist for weeks or even months after the condition goes away. Speaking about shingles in the eye, I'm Dr. Richard Cohn.


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