ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Shingles is a painful complication caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If the rash spreads to the eye, it can reduce vision— or even lead to blindness. A new study indicates that in the most severe cases, there is a surgical solution that shows promise.
They appear as painful, pus-filled blisters, usually on a person’s trunk, or shoulders.
“Shingles is basically the chickenpox virus that lives in one of our nerves in our body. It can come out down a nerve,” explained Christopher T. Hood, MD, clinical associate professor and medical director of the Cornea and Refractive Surgery Clinic, W. K. Kellogg Eye Center at Michigan Medicine Ophthalmology.
Sometimes shingles move across the face— infecting the eyes.
Doctors can prescribe anti-viral medications or eyedrops, but sometimes those don’t prevent scar tissue from forming. That’s when transplant becomes an option.
“And in that case, we can basically do, typically, a full-thickness cornea transplant, so-called penetrating keratoplasty, to remove basically, a round area of their cornea. Typically, about eight millimeters and then we use a donor persons cornea, someone who’s died and donates their eye, and we can then transplant that into position,” Dr. Hood elaborated.
Dr. Hood and his colleagues at the Kellogg Eye Center studied 53 patients who had the corneal transplants and found 94 percent of the grafts were intact one year after surgery, and patients’ vision improved significantly. There are options available now to help older adults avoid shingles. Doctors recommend adults get vaccinated, usually at about age 50.