SHINGLES AND THE EYE by Dr. Mark German, Optometrist at Lakeshore Eye Care Professionals in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin
Shingles are very common in those over age 50. In fact, 25% of adults will have an episode of shingles during their lifetime. The older you get, the more severe the symptoms can be. The most common location for shingles is around the trunk but the facial area is the second most common site.
What are shingles? The symptoms start with pain or burning in a localized area. If it is on the face, commonly the symptoms begin in the scalp or on the forehead of one side. Later, vesicles start to appear. It comes from the chicken pox virus that has been dormant in the nervous system since childhood. As you age, your immunity decreases and the virus re-expresses itself.
Treatment generally involves oral anti-viral medication. If you suspect you have shingles, your first stop should be with your primary care physician. If they determine that the eye may be involved, they will refer you for an eye evaluation.
The most serious eye complication from shingles is an inflammation inside the eye called iritis. This is treated with topical steroid drops but needs to be detected early to prevent vision loss. You are more likely to have eye problems with shingles if you have vesicles on the tip of your nose (Hutchinson's sign) as the same nerve serves the eye as the end of the nose.
There is a shingles vaccine now available which decreases your chances of getting the condition by 50% - ask your primary doctor about that. And remember that we are available to help should the need present itself.
Dr. Mark German is an Optometrist practicing at Lakeshore Eye Care Professionals in Mequon and Saukville, Wisconsin.
For appointments, Call 262-241-1919.
Visit www.LakeShoreVision.com for more information about medical and surgical eye care.