Shingles is a disease caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once a patient has chickenpox, the virus stays in the body, and, as some people age, it may reappear as shingles. Shingles is not contagious – you can’t “catch it.” In about 40 percent of people with shingles, the cornea will be affected.
Warning Signs & Symptoms
Early signs of shingles include burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching, usually on one side of the body or face. The pain can be mild to severe. Blisters soon form and last from one to 10 days. If shingles appear on the face, it can affect vision or hearing. The pain of shingles may last for weeks, months or even years after the blisters have healed.
There is no cure for shingles, but early treatment with medicines that fight the virus may help. In some cases a corneal transplant may be required.
A vaccine for people 60 and older is available that may prevent shingles or lessen its effects.
If a corneal transplant is required, the patient must wear an eye patch for a certain period of time, which protects the new cornea from injury. Eye drops are required to prevent rejection of the transplant, and full vision recovery may take up to a year.