A new study has found that in rare instances the chickenpox and shingles vaccine may cause corneal inflammation. Prior to individuals getting vaccinated doctors should consider their medical history, especially if there is a history of eye inflammation.
Frederick W. Fraunfelder, M.D, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the MU School of Medicine and director of MU Health Care’s Mason Eye Institute, said, “Keratitis, or inflammation of the clear layer on the front of the eye, is a vision issue that can cause serious complications or even permanent damage to your vision if left untreated. By studying case reports from national and international registries, we found at least 20 cases of keratitis occurred in children and adults within a month of administration of the chickenpox and shingles vaccine. While this is a rare occurrence, it’s important for physicians to know when giving the vaccine to individuals who have a history of the condition because it could be reactivated by the vaccine.”
Researchers reviewed a database and previously published reports where they found 20 cases of eye inflammation in close relation to the vaccine. Symptoms of keratitis in adults developed within 24 days of the vaccination. For children symptoms developed within two weeks.
Fraunfelder added, “It’s important to note that keratitis associated with these vaccines is very rare, and by itself is not a reason to forego vaccination. But for patients who have a history of keratitis, we recommend they talk to their primary care physician before getting vaccinated. If these individuals are vaccinated, they should be closely monitored to ensure they don’t experience corneal inflammation or additional scarring.”
The findings were presented at the 2015 meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Las Vegas.