Since the article in the last issue of Allergic Reaction about Ramsay Hunt Syndrome from shingles, four patients from this office have commented on the much more common problem from shingles. That is eye involvement. Four individuals either had the complication themselves or knew a relative or friend with the eye involvement. All four of them felt that since the eye issue is so severe, people should know about it so they can protect themselves with the vaccine.
So here are some facts:
The most common complication of shingles (herpes zoster) is post-herpetic neuralgia. This occurs in about 20 percent of people who have shingles and can be a life-long source of recurrent pain in the area where the shingles broke out.
The second most common complication of shingles is herpes zoster opthalmicus (eye involvement), which occurs in about 2.5 to 3 percent of cases of shingles. Types of eye problems include conjunctivitis, iritis, uveitis and keratitis. All of these conditions can lead to varying degrees of loss of vision – including blindness. In some people the eye condition re-occurs repeatedly, even though the shingles don’t.
Once again, the best prevention for this complication is vaccination. Of note, when the vaccine was first released, the recommended age was 60 and older. Because the vaccine has proven to be so safe and so effective in preventing shingles and its complications, the age recommendation has been shifted to 50 and older.