herpes zoster ophthalmicus

Last reviewed 04/2021

This occurs when herpes zoster affects the first (ophthalmic) branch of the trigeminal nerve. The blistering rash associated with shingles may be preceded by numbness, pain or tingling around the eye. The eye itself is affected in approximately 50% of cases of ophthalmic shingles.

Ocular complications include:

  • scleritis and iritis
  • keratitis and corneal anaesthesia
  • glaucoma

If the nose tip is affected by the rash then this signifies involvment of the nasociliary branch of the trigeminal nerve. This branch supplies the globe and makes it highly probable that the eye will be affected. Note that the eye can be seriously affected despite there being little evidence of a shingles rash.

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