A study was recently presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Las Vegas indicated that the vaccine for chickenpox and shingles may be linked to keratitis, which is inflammation of the eye's cornea, although only in a very small number of cases.
According to Dr. Frederick Fraunfelder, chair of the ophthalmology department and director of the University of Missouri Eye Institute, "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."
Only 20 cases were documented of keratitis in both children and adults which occurred within 30 days of receiving a vaccination for either chickenpox or shingles. Symptoms took longer to present in adults, typically within 24 days of vaccination, than compared to children, which began within 14 days.
The research indicated that there is a likely relationship between the vaccine and the eye inflammation, although the study wasn't designed to prove cause and effect.
Even in light of these findings, with so few people being affected, and the low risk involved, it's strongly recommended that most people should still get vaccinated for both chickenpox and shingles.
"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," Dr. Frederick Fraunfelder added.
Anyone that has exhibited symptoms of keratitis in the past should be closely monitored after receiving a chickenpox or shingles vaccine. Pay attention to any signs of inflammation of the cornea or additional scarring.