The condition that could put you at risk of ‘blindness’ – signs09/05/2022
Shingles: Symptoms and effects of virus
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While you might take your vision for granted, a condition that is more common in adults could pose a threat. Optometrist and Clinical Advisor for the Association of Optometrists, Roshni Kanabar, said: “Shingles in the eye, also known as Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus, is caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (chickenpox) in the nerve that leads to the eye.” What’s worse, this could lead to blindness.
It usually becomes obvious within three to four weeks of your first symptoms whether shingles are going to target your eyes.
While shingles in the eye could lead to blindness, there is a symptom that could help identify this promptly.
Characterised as the main sign, the tell-tale rash will also indicate eye problems.
Kanabar said: “The symptoms include a rash affecting one side of the forehead, upper eyelid and nose.
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“If the rash spreads down the nose to the tip of the nose, it is more likely that it will affect the eye.”
Although rash in these areas could ring the alarm bells, your eyes can also show other symptoms.
From pain to blurry vision, there are various ways to spot shingles in the eyes.
Kanabar added: “Other symptoms include feeling unwell, headache, fever, an unusual sensation in the forehead, eye pain, blurry vision, watery eyes, redness, light sensitivity and severe discomfort.
“These symptoms can be caused by the virus affecting the very sensitive structure at the front of the eye called the cornea.”
The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor “as soon as possible” if pain and rash crop up near your eye to avoid “permanent” eye damage.
How do shingles lead to blindness?
The optometrist explained that shingles can leave your eyes scarred, potentially leading to blindness.
Kanabar said: “The cornea is the clear window at the front of the eye that helps to focus the light rays as they enter the eye.
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“In shingles, the cornea can become ulcerated and if not treated urgently an ulcer can cause a scar, in the worst cases it can leave the patient blind in the affected eye.
“It is important to contact your optometrist urgently if you have any of the symptoms above as early treatment will lead to a better outcome.
“Some of the symptoms of shingles are similar to other eye conditions and so it is important for an eye care professional such as an optometrist to rule these out too.”
Although your eyes can take the hit, there are plenty of other symptoms that can help identify shingles.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the full list of symptoms includes:
- Feeling tired
- Sensitivity to light
- Stomach upset
- An itching, tingling or burning feeling in an area of your skin
- Redness on your skin in the affected area
- Raised rash in a small area of your skin
- Fluid-filled blisters that break open then scab over
- Mild to severe pain in the area of skin affected.
Similarly to eye issues, it’s crucial to reach out to your doctor once you start experiencing the symptoms of shingles.
The NHS explains that you might need medicine to treat the condition and this works best when taken within three days of initial symptoms.
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