ORLANDO, Fla. - Shingles is a very real concern for people over the age of 50, as 1 in 3 Americans will develop the painful, blistering disease in their lifetime.
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chicken pox.
"The virus never leaves the body. It lies dormant, usually along the nervous tissue along the spinal cord or the brain," Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, an ophthalmologist, said.
Shingles blisters are not only extremely painful, but can, depending on the location, cause permanent damage. If shingles gets in the eye, it can potentially destroy it.
Fortunately, a new vaccine called Shingrix is 90 percent effective in preventing the disease and post-infection complications.
"All patients 50 and older should be getting the vaccine, unless they're immunocompromised," Mendelsohn said.
The shot is so new that not all insurance companies are covering the cost, which is about $200, but Mendelsohn said that the investment is worth it for those who can afford it.
It's important for anyone who develops shingles to get on oral antiviral medications as soon as possible.
If used within 72 hours of the first symptoms, the drugs can reduce the duration and severity of the disease and lower the risk of it spreading to the eye.
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