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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 11317
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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How long does shingles in the eye last?

Resolved Question:

I have shingles in my eye. How long does it last? How do you treat eye shingles?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Eye
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 5 years ago.

Is the shingles affecting your actual eyeball (cornea, uveitis) or is it on the lid/around you eyeball only?
My opthamologist told me the eyeball itself is not injured. He looked at the retina, etc., as did another specialist. There is some inflammation, tearing and periodic stabbing pain and light still is painful to the eye. My eyeglasses were fitted with a prism as I was seeing double. I have had shingles for over two months now and while my doctor says he sees improvement, I am still in discomfort and would like to be able to know there is an end to this episode.

Dr. Rick :
Ok. It sounds like you have been getting excellent care and that the virus may have affected one of the nerves that moves your eyeball, thus the double vision. I am glad to hear that your eyeball, retina and eye pressure is not involved -- that is a good thing ;-)

Unfortunately, as far as the intermittent pain is involved, there is very little that can be done to effectively deal with this issue....sorry about that.

Now, concerning the double vision. Your doctors are correct. The only treatment available is a heavy dose of "tincture of time" In other words, just wait for your body to fix things by itself. The good news? Usually, within 3 to 6 months, things return to normal and your double vision will resolve.

Since your doctor is able to see improvement on exam, even though you can't appreciate it, means that things are going in the right direction and the light at the end of the tunnel actually means things will be better rather then another train is heading your way. ;-)

Does this make sense to you?
Yes. To clarify, I can reasonably expect this to resolve itself within 3-6 months. Does that mean 3-6 months from the very beginning of the disease (the blisters/rash)? Is there any possibility that there can be permanent problems because of this?

Dr. Rick :
You are correct. The time frame starts from your first symptoms. But remember, in medicine all time frames are just estimates......

Yes, there can be continued neurotrophic pain and sometimes the double vision doesn't go away...but yours is already showing improvement on exam, so that is a good thing and speaks toward your complete recovery. If HSZ involves your eyeball/retina etc all sorts of long-term bad things can happen...once again, this is not an issue for you as your actual eyeball is not involved.

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Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 5 years ago.
Let me know if there is anything else you would like to discuss pertaining to this issue.
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