A shingles vaccine is now recommended for individuals aged 50 years and older, 10 years younger than a previous recommendation, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Dermatological Association.
Shingles (herpes zoster) can lead to a painful and disfiguring complication called herpes zoster ophthalmicus, which can cause blindness, the AAO said.
If the shingles virus affects the eye, it can cause a rash, infection, pink eye, dry eye, blurry vision, swelling of the optic nerve and breakdown of the cornea.
“Ophthalmologists and other physicians have a moral obligation to encourage immunocompetent people older than 50 to get vaccinated,” Elisabeth Cohen, MD, clinical spokesperson for the AAO, said in a press release. “The number of people affected is growing, and the health consequences are significant. The zoster vaccine is safe and effective. If you are older than 50 and are eligible, just do it.”