Herpes Zoster

About Herpes Zoster (Shingles)

Herpes Zoster is an infection that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus – the same virus that causes chickenpox. In most cases, once a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in the body. But in some people, the virus becomes active again later in life. When this happens, the virus travels down nerve fibers and can infect any part of the body, even in the eyes and around the eye regions.


The infection can cause a blistering rash (called shingles), fever, painful inflammations of the affected nerve fibers, and a general feeling of sluggishness. In many people who have a varicella-zoster infection in their head or neck, the virus also affects the cornea.

Treatments We Offer

To treat an infection in the cornea, doctors will often prescribe oral anti-viral medication. This can lower the risk of inflammation and scarring in the cornea. The virus can also decrease corneal sensitivity. This means that the cornea will not be as sensitive to foreign objects, such as stray eyelashes. In many cases, this decreased sensitivity is permanent.

Corneal problems can also arise again after the virus is gone. For this reason, it is important that people who have had shingles on their face have regular follow-up eye examinations.

Why Choose Columbia?

Columbia ophthalmologists are experts in recognizing symptoms of Herpes Zoster and we treat patients with the upmost compassionate and expertise.