Best Treatment of Shingles in the Eye

Varicella zoster is also sometimes called the "chickenpox virus." Once a person has the pox, a little bit of the viral coding is saved in the spinal cord and reactivates decades later when the immune system has been weakened through illness, chemotherapy, old age or other circumstances. Once it's reawakened, the virus travels horizontally across the body, down nerve pathways, and in a belt-like formation around one side of the abdomen, chest or eye. It's especially important to get treatment of shingles, especially if the eye has been affected.  

"Time is of the essence with diagnosis and treatment. I tell you, if there's any suggestion of shingles, you treat hard and treat early," warns Dr. Keith Baratz, the lead author in a Mayo Clinic study (1976-1998). In the study, 9% of patients who did not seek treatment of shingles suffered serious eye conditions, such as vision loss, eyelid scarring and trichiasis, compared to just 2% of patients who took antiviral medications. Researchers discovered that of the people who were treated, those who came down with glaucoma, eye inflammation, corneal swelling, scarring and blindness sought shingles symptom treatment after 4.8 days. Patients who had none of these conditions received their treatment after 3.8 days, so doctors concluded that waiting even one day can make a huge difference.  

The shingles varicella zoster virus sometimes starts with a week of headaches or a strange pain on one side of the face. Fatigue and mild fever often accompany the virus. The skin around the eye becomes tender and a chickenpox-like rash develops. One small lesion or cluster of red spots might appear on the tip of the nose or beneath the eye next. Sometimes sufferers wake up with an eye swelled shut. This rash causes intense itching, eye watering, impaired vision and eye swelling that can be almost unbearable. After a week or so, the blisters usually dry up and fade but there can be long-lasting symptoms if treatment of shingles is not done promptly and effectively.


The treatment of shingles is not very invasive, usually. If caught early (within the first 72 hours of the rash appearance), doctors will prescribe an antiviral medication, like acyclovir or famvir that weakens the virus and reduces the risk of developing serious side effects, like post-herpetic neuralgia, incessant pain or glaucoma and blindness. Prescription eye drops and topical creams help to reduce itchiness and pain both in and around the eye. For seriously inflamed eyes, steroids may be prescribed to reduce the swelling and allow the eye to heal naturally.

Related topics about treatment of shingles
Shingles Treatment
You'll know you need shingles treatment straight away if you've been having pain and a rash appears. "If you have pain, and then a rash, that's an important signal," says Dr. Karl Beutner MD, PhD.

Treatment For Shingles
Without treatment for shingles, many older patients develop postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is a severe, excruciating painful rash. Doctors estimate that 1 in 4 patients with shingles will develop this condition, even if they are treated quickly with antiviral medication. However, if they do not seek treatment right away at the sight of the rash, then the odds increase to 1 in 2.