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Study: Eye-Based Shingles On The Rise

RM Shingles

Shingles is a condition that stems from the chickenpox virus, and if you had chickenpox as a child, there is a good chance it can re-emerge after years of inactivity in the form of shingles.

In fact, new research has found that since 2004, eye-based shingles cases have tripled. The reason behind the rise is not known; however, the silver lining in it all is that two vaccines can help those at risk to avoid shingles all together.

News Max reported that the only issue around this is that few in the U.S. have received either of the shingles’ shots.

Lead study author of the research, Dr. Nakul chimed in on eye-based shingles stating the varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection, which most get as kids in the form of chickenpox, lays “dormant” within deeper nerves in the body and never truly goes away. In fact, it reactivates years, at times decades, later.

Interestingly enough, approximately 20% of cases around shingles hit a person’s eye. As eyes have quite sensitive nerves, this can cause a tremendous amount of pain, including swelling, a rash, pink eye and inflammation due to the condition. Other cases can cause scarring of the corneal and blistering that can end in vision loss, permanently.

When it comes to the study, Shekhawat and his team reviewed health records from 2004 to 2016 of about 21 million patients. What they found was that eye-based shingle increased over the years by over 30 cases for every 100,000 individuals, from just under 10 cases for every 100,000.

The research team also discovered that individuals 75 and older where highest at risk when it came to the condition; Caucasians and females also had increased chances around the illness.

The study team noted that while shingles was on the rise, getting the shot would make a significant difference. Shingrix, a two-dose vaccine was given the stamp of approval in 2017 and can prevent shingles by 97%. Meanwhile, the older shot known as Zostavax can also cut the chances of the condition by about 50%. Additionally, those who have had shingles before can also cut their risks by getting the shot; this, as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC). The organization recommends the Shingrix vaccine for those individuals 50 or over.

It’s important to note that these vaccinations won’t cure shingles or help with symptoms if they have surfaced already, so individuals need to consider the shots to be preventative measures to avoid the condition and painful symptoms. Treatment for shingles can range from compresses to eye drops, and even surgery for more complicated cases.