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What can you do for shingles in your eye?

shingles in your eye
Medically reviewed by Dr. Devindra Bhatt

Key Takeaways

  • The varicella-zoster virus in the eye is caused by the same chickenpox virus.
  • Eye shingles cause pain, tingling, redness, swelling, and light sensitivity on one side of the face.
  • Stress, weakened immunity, and age can increase eye shingles risk. 
  • If eye shingles are left untreated, keratitis and blindness may occur.
  • Famciclovir, Valacyclovir, and Acyclovir are common antivirals used to treat eye shingles.
  • Inflammation may be treated with steroids and painkillers.
  • You can avoid severe eye damage with on-time treatment.


The painful condition of shingles in the eye, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, is characterized by blisters, swelling, and redness in the area of the eye. It can happen after chickenpox when the latent virus reawakens in the nerves. If caught early enough, antiviral medication and possibly steroids can lessen the blow and save the eyes from permanent damage. This blog covers the symptoms of shingles in your eye, its causes, and treatment in detail.

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What is shingles (Herpes Zoster) in the eye?

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) on the eye is caused by the virus that also causes Chicken Pox. Shingles of the eye start showing symptoms by beginning from one side of the eye, causing pain and tingling on one side of your nose. The shingles in the eye cause swelling, blurry vision, redness, and sensitivity to light.

What do shingles in your eye look like?

Shingles can affect any part of your body, including your eyes. Shingles in the eyes are painful, with blisters and swelling. Long-term complications like vision loss may sometimes occur due to shingles in your eye.

How do you know if you have shingles in your eye?

You can look for symptoms like blisters around the eyes, redness, pain, and swelling. For a more accurate diagnosis, you have to see an online doctor. The doctor will take some of the blister fluid and send it to a lab to check for the presence of the Varicella Zoster virus. In the earliest stages of shingles, pain and tingling can be felt on one side of the face, particularly around the eyes. The eyes hurt, and there is redness and swelling.

How did I get shingles in my eye?

If you have had chicken pox, you can have shingles in your eye later on. The chickenpox virus lives in the nerves even after you have healed from it and manifests as Herpes Zoster Opthalmicus when it reaches the eye. Various symptoms, including a painful and notorious shingles rash around the eye region, accompany shingles.

What are the risk factors for shingles in the eye?

The risk factors for shingles in the eyes include stress, a weakened immune system, and age. The risk of getting shingles can also be raised by taking certain medications. Corticosteroids and anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) drugs are two examples of immunosuppressants that may be included in this category. However, it is important to note that generally, there are no specific medications that can trigger shingles in your eyes.

What are the dangers of shingles in the eye?

Shingles affect different parts of the eye, including the cornea, eyelid, the deeper portions of the eye, and the surface. It can also lead to loss of vision (shingles blindness) or keratitis if it worsens. Herpes leads to Keratitis within one month if it affects the eye’s cornea, the curved, transparent dome of tissue. If shingles prolong and worsen, it can also lead to blindness or poor vision.

What is the best treatment for shingles in the eye?

The best eye shingles treatment for the Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus (HZO) virus is an antiviral medication. Some antiviral drugs that are frequently recommended upon diagnosis of shingles in the eyes include Famvir (Famciclovir), Valacyclovir (Valtrex), and Acyclovir (Zovirax). 

These antiviral medications help you heal from the viral infection and its drastic effects on your eyes and eye region. If you get the right treatment within three days of infection, you can heal fast without drastically affecting your eyes. 

Your doctor may also recommend a steroid medication such as a pill or eye drops 

to reduce the swelling in your eyes. In some cases, postherpetic neuralgia develops due to shingles. Pain medication and antidepressants help relieve the pain.

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Consult a doctor

It is necessary to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect shingles in your eyes. The drastic and long-term effects of shingles in your eyes can be prevented if you get a quick diagnosis and start treatment immediately. Symptoms like a shingles rash, redness, swelling, and pain in one side of the nose or forehead should not be taken for granted and you should consult a doctor immediately.

FAQs about shingles in your eye

How contagious is shingles in the eye?

Shingles in the eye actually come from the chickenpox virus, but it is not contagious, unlike chickenpox. You can not pass shingles in the eyes to anyone else, but you can pass the Herpes Zoster virus to someone who never had ChickenPox, and they may develop chicken pox due to Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus (HZO).

When does shingles pain peak?

Eye shingles pain can peak in about one week after the initial symptoms of the infection. The pain gets better if you take the appropriate treatment.

How long do shingles in the eye last?

Shingles on the eye can last for a few weeks to months. Initially, your healthcare professional will check your eyes frequently every few days. Later on, you should have a check-up in three to six months for vision and glaucoma.

Can shingles in the eye affect the brain?

No, the shingles in the eye do not directly affect the brain; however, they can cause peripheral motor neuropathy or postherpetic neuralgia.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Jeng, Bennie H. “Herpes zoster eye disease: new ways to combat an old foe?.” Ophthalmology 125.11 (2018): 1671-1674.
  • Care, Seeking. “Things to Know About Shingles.”
  • Peate, Ian. “Preventing shingles: symptoms, treatment and management.” British Journal of Healthcare Assistants 4.3 (2010): 120-123.
  • Clearkin, L. “Comment on ‘Herpes zoster ophthalmicus reduction: implementation of shingles vaccination in the UK’.” Eye 28.12 (2014): 1522-1523.
  • Battista, Marco, et al. “Ophthalmic Shingles with Simultaneous Acute Retinal Necrosis in the Opposite Eye.” Ocular Immunology and Inflammation 29.7-8 (2021): 1389-1391.

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