Causes of Herpes (shingles ocular zoster) in the Eye!

Causes of Herpes (shingles ocular zoster) in the Eye!

The herpes zoster eye, known as herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO) is an infection serious sight – threatening and affects the eye and the skin around it. HZO is caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox in children. After an infection the virus keeps inactive in the nerves and can be reactivated, resulting in shingles in people with a weak immune system. HZO results when the virus reactivates in the nerves that supply the eye area.

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The varicella zoster virus should not be confused with herpes simplex 1, another virus that causes herpes in the eye. Herpes simplex 1 is the same virus that causes cold sores on the lips and mouth. Sometimes it causes a corneal infection called herpes simplex keratitis.

Symptoms of Shingles Ocular Zoster:

If you have ocular shingles, you will probably have a rash on one side of your face or forehead that looks similar to chicken pox. A group of small blisters can develop around one of your eyes. A week before the onset of the rash, you may feel fatigue, discomfort and possibly a mild fever. In some cases, you may feel pain in the affected area days before the blisters appear. If your eye becomes infected with HZO, the following symptoms may develop:

  • Severe pain around the eye
  • Redness of the eye
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Light sensitivity

Causes of Ocular Shingles:

Herpes zoster is caused by the same virus that generates chickenpox and shingles. People who have had chickenpox or have been exposed to it may develop ocular shingles. About 25% of people with shingles will develop ocular shingles, but this tends to occur more frequently in older people and those with a compromised immune system. Exercise, stress reduction and the maintenance of a good immune system may decrease your chances of being affected.

Diagnosis of Shingles Ocular Zoster:

Although there are some medical tests that can be done to confirm this condition, most doctors can diagnose HZO based on skin appearance and symptoms. While an early diagnosis can be a challenge, once the blisters appear, the diagnosis is usually direct due to the way in which the buds respect the vertical midline of the body, affecting only one side of the face. An early and obvious sign of an impending case of ocular shingles in the Hutchinson sign. This sign refers to a blister or lesion that erupts right at the tip of the nose.

Treatment of Ocular Shingles:

If you are noticing the symptoms, be sure to visit your doctor and get a diagnosis as early as possible. If you are diagnosed with HZO, your doctor will prescribe an antiviral medication in an attempt to limit virus replication and reduce subsequent pain and symptoms. Ophthalmic drops with steroids may also be recommended to reduce inflammation. You will also be advised to keep the affected area clean and avoid scratching the lesion to prevent scarring or a bacterial infection. To reduce pain, you can order cold compresses on the affected areas. Over the counter medications are sometimes a great help for pain as well. And it is not unusual for cases of ocular shingles, to be admitted to a hospital. It is important that you take into account both the symptoms and preventive measures to avoid a painful outbreak of herpes zoster, because it is a delicate condition that requires a lot of attention.


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