Bright Sight

Oliver Backhouse, Consultant Eye Surgeon


Shingles is caused by reactivation of the Chicken Pox Virus. The virus will have stayed hidden and inactive in a nerve since you originally had Chicken Pox. The rash causes pain along the nerve route and can be very uncomfortable. Sometimes the virus reactivation is in the nerve which supplies sensation of the skin around the eye. Thankfully, even if the rash looks and feels dreadful, serious involvement of the eye is much less common.

Should your eye become red or be sore or have reduced vision it is important you see an Ophthalmologist who will be able to determine if there is any inflammation on the surface of the eye (keratitis) or inside the eye (uveitis). These are usually well controlled with medication such as artificial tear drops, anti-viral ointment (Acyclovir) and Steroid eye drops. The skin rash is usually treated with anti-viral tablets and cream. It is important to take the medication as instructed by you doctor. Just as important is continuing to eat well and drink water. If the discomfort is preventing you from sleeping then some medication to help with this and reduce the sensitivity of the nerves can help. Take plenty of rest.

Unfortunately the skin discomfort can remain even once the rash has vanished. This is due to damaged nerve endings which have developed a type of supersensitivity. This usually reduces with time but can take many months. Rarely the inflammation inside the eye can persist but this is usually well controlled with a regular weak Steroid eye drop.