Shingles, a variant of chickenpox affecting adults, can also affect the eyes, causing ophthalmic shingles. For optimal healing, early treatment is crucial. What exactly is shingles, and how can it be recognized and treated? 

What are shingles?

Ophthalmic shingles is an eye infection triggered by the shingles virus responsible for chickenpox in children. Once contracted, this virus persists permanently in the body, sometimes reactivating along the optic nerve.

Are shingles contagious?

Unlike shingles itself, ophthalmic shingles are not contagious. However, if you have it, you can transmit chickenpox to others who have never had it.

Causes of shingles

Triggering factors include a decrease in immune defences, common in older adults or immunocompromised, as well as fatigue and stress. 

Symptoms of shingles

Symptoms vary but include headaches, tingling, a blistering rash and pain. Medical consultation is necessary as soon as ocular symptoms appear.

Complications of ophthalmic shingles

Include conjunctivitis, keratitis or uveitis, with an increased risk if treatment is delayed.

Treatment of shingles

It involves antiviral drugs and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. People over 50 may also be offered a chickenpox vaccine to prevent recurrence.

Recovery time for shingles

Generally, it takes 2 to 3 weeks, but post-shingles pain may persist for longer.