As a child, the likelihood that you caught chickenpox is highly likely. In fact, catching the chickenpox as a child is almost a rite of passage, at least in North America. The main reason behind parents seemingly wanting their children to get sick is because chickenpox comes with much fewer potential complications when you are a child than when you are an adult. That, and once you have the chickenpox, the likelihood of you getting them again is very low – but that doesn’t mean you are in the clear as an adult.
While the chickenpox might be a distant memory for the majority of adults, the fact remains that the virus is still found within their bodies, it is simply lying dormant. However, it can become reactivated, and this is known as herpes zoster, or, as it is commonly called, shingles.
Shingles is a disease that is characterized by a painful, blistering skin rash that affects only one side of the body; typically the face or torso. If you have read a newspaper or watched the news, then there is a good chance that you have heard about shingles recently, as there is currently a nationwide push to get the aging population to take a vaccine. However, what many people don’t know is that shingles can not only affect the face and the torso – it can also infect the eye.
According to Dr. Victor Marchione, “a herpes zoster eye infection can be unpleasant, so catching it early and getting treatment is always preferable. In the early stages of a herpes zoster eye infection, a person might feel a sharp stabbing pain or possibly an itching or burning sensation on the forehead, eyelid, or even the sides of the nose. A fever, headache, and chills may also be experienced early on. Three to five days later, blisters may appear on the forehead or inside the eyelids and tip of the nose. The blisters start our clear with a red base, but over the next seven days, the clearness turns to puss or might even bleed.”
Although it is common for shingles to impact the skin, when it comes to an eye infection caused by the same virus, some different symptoms may occur. These include red, painful and watery eyes; swollen eyelids; sensitivity to light; blurry vision; and the feeling that you have something in your eye. Sadly, like regular shingles, this type of infection can have long lasting implications.
“When a person is getting over shingles that are on their body, the blisters start to crust over, and the pain and irritation tend to disappear over a period of one to three weeks. When the shingles virus damages a nerve, you can have pain or tingle for months or even years after the actual blister rash has healed,” says Dr. Marchione.
While shingles are nothing new, the treatment and preventative measures that medicine has created are. While many people are still on the fence about taking a shingles vaccine, we feel you need only look at the long and painful potential of NOT getting one when the time comes.Advertisement