Herpes zoster

The herpes zoster is caused by the same virus of chicken pox. After the initial patient’s infection by the herpes virus, the virus is “standby” in certain nerve fibers. However, it can become active as a result of many factors such as aging, stress, immune system suppression and usage of several medications.

The herpes virus is locates in certain nerve fibers at each patient, so when is active, it affects only one part of the body or face. It starts as a rash, which cause blisters and wound on the skin. Any wounds on the nose show an early sign of possible infection of eyes too!

The herpes zoster can cause several problems at the eye and at the surrounded areas that may have long-term effects. Characteristic problems which require treatment are inflammation and corneal ulcer, conjunctivitis and iritis. In several cases, the retina and the optic nerve may also be infected by the virus.

The eye problems caused by the acute or chronic infection of herpes zoster virus can cause glaucoma, cataract, double vision and scarring of the cornea and eyelids.

In many patients, this infection is painful and usually takes several weeks. Some patients also, have post-herpetic pain (after the disappearance of virus infection).

Herpes Zoster symptoms

Herpes zoster cause a wide range of problems that affect the skin and the eye. The range of severity depends on the extent of the infection.

Some of the following problems arise indirectly from inflammation caused by the disease.

Herpes Zoster problems that affect the body

• Flu symptoms (fever, headache, tiredness)
• Rashes, redness
• Red, sensitive skin
• Blisters and wounds on the skin
• Pain like burning and tingling

Herpes Zoster problems that affect the eye

• Redness
• Sensitivity to light
• Bulging of eyelids
• Dry eyes
• Blurred vision (depending on how the eye is affected)
• Corneal inflammation that can lead to apoptosis and scarring epithelium
• Inflammation within the eye and the optic nerve
• Glaucoma
• Cataract
• Diplopia (double vision)
• Loss of sense at the affected area of the eye

Herpes Zoster diagnosis

During the eye infection, the ophthalmologist examines the anterior part of the eye on the slit lamp and the fundus, as well as the optic nerve with the ophthalmoscope. Visual acuity and intraocular pressure are also examined. The points’ infection at the face and body are noted.

Herpes Zoster treatment

The herpes zoster is treated by antiviral and anti-inflammatory medications. Eye drops and ointments can also be prescribed. In some cases, serious ocular complications caused by herpes zoster may require surgical treatment.

Infected patients should avoid contact with the sensitive and vulnerable group of population, such as elderly people, children and pregnant women.


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