Shingles: Symptoms and effects of virus
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Triggered by the varicella-zoster virus, shingles is a viral infection that leads to a rash. This condition is ignited by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Although you might have not thought about the condition since your childhood, the virus lies inactive in your nerve tissues.
According to health bodies, two symptoms of shingles that can appear in your vision are:
- Sensitivity to light
- Vision loss.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that vision loss is linked to a rash that pops up on one side of your face.
Shingles usually appear as a single stripe of blisters, wrapping around either the left or right side of your torso.
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However, the painful infection can sometimes crop up around one eye or on one side of your face.
“Shingles on the face can affect the eye and cause vision loss,” the CDC reports.
The Harvard Medical School shares that up to 20 percent of shingles cases involve nerves of the head.
This is where the condition can affect parts of your eye, such as the eyelid, eye surface and deeper portions of the eye.
The health portal reports: “Viral infection of the eye can cause pain, drainage, redness, and sensitivity to light.
“In some cases, it can lead to vision impairment, including blindness.”
Shingles in the front of the eye
Shingles can affect your cornea, which is the curved, transparent dome of tissue at the front of the eye.
Shingles in this location is referred to as keratitis that can happen as a complication of herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO).
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This describes shingles with a rash that involve one side of the upper face.
“If you have shingles involving the upper face, forehead, or scalp area, it is important to see an ophthalmologist for a formal eye examination, whether or not you notice any eye symptoms,” the Harvard Medical School advises.
Shingles in the back of the eye
Shingles that involve your retina or optic nerve is not typically linked to a rash.
Dubbed as viral retinitis, this kind of shingles occurs much less commonly than HZO.
“But it can significantly damage the retina through a combination of infection and inflammation,” the school adds.
It is important to see an eye specialist to confirm that the infection is indeed caused by varicella zoster virus.
While eyes could hold clues, there are also other symptoms of shingles, including:
- Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
- Sensitivity to touch
- A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
- Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
The Mayo Clinic advises to “see a doctor” if you suspect having shingles.
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