AGEWISE: Protecting against shingles | Local News

Q: Is shingles a seasonal virus? —AA

To respond: The past two years have led to increased awareness of communicable diseases and how to avoid contracting them. It can sometimes be overwhelming to think of all the potential illnesses out there, especially those that are seasonal and tend to come back year after year.

However, most common illnesses are much less scary once you learn the facts and information about them. One of these diseases is shingles (herpes zoster). Shingles is a painful rash related to chickenpox (chickenpox). According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), chickenpox usually occurs in late winter and early spring in school-aged children. Shingles comes from the same virus that causes chickenpox, but the onset is more often triggered by factors within a person’s individual body. It is not considered a seasonal virus.

According to information shared by the National Institute on Aging, shingles is generally not considered contagious, but it can be passed from person to person when the rash is in the blistering stage. When a person gets chickenpox, the chickenpox virus can stay in their body even after they recover. A healthy immune system helps keep the virus inactive. If a person’s immune system becomes weak or compromised, the chickenpox virus can reactivate, causing a painful rash known as shingles.

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Although it is particularly common in the elderly, it can be contracted at any age. In fact, it is believed that 1 in 3 Americans will contract the shingles virus at some point in their life.

Some factors that can contribute to a person developing shingles are a natural decline in immunity, taking immunosuppressive drugs used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, and certain diseases that damage your immune system. Stress can also be a contributing factor.

The good news is that there is a vaccine for shingles. People who are concerned about getting shingles should contact their primary health care provider for information about personal risk factors and whether they should consider getting the vaccine.

Q: Where can I donate eyeglass frames that I no longer use? —JM

To respond: The Vision Council estimates that 164 million American adults wear glasses. They are a convenient way to correct refractive errors such as blurred vision due to nearsightedness or farsightedness. However, the view changes over time. Depending on a person’s specific condition, their eyeglass prescription may change up to once a year.

Over the years, a person can easily collect several pairs of glasses that no longer meet their needs. Many would like the ability to donate used eyeglasses so that the financial investment and benefits of corrective prescription can be passed on to someone else. According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people around the world live with some form of visual impairment because they do not have access to eye care or cannot afford to buy glasses.

Lions Club International works with local communities to facilitate the donation of eyeglass frames. They operate a network of Lions Eyeglass Collection Boxes and Recycling Centers where volunteers process donated eyeglasses for distribution through medical missions around the world. Donation boxes can be found across the country in places like libraries, banks, small businesses, schools, or places of worship.

Locally, here are some of the vision centers that agree to donate used eyeglasses to the Lions Club for recycling and distribution:

• Eyes on Trade, 604 Trade St., 336-727-3727

• Eye Care Center, 500 W 4th St., 336-837-3937

• Visionworks, 3316 Silas Creek Parkway, 336-765-6003

• Walmart Vision & Glasses, 4550 Kester Mill Road, 336-659-8666

• Couture Eyewear, 611 Coliseum Drive, 336-397-7200

• North Point Eye Center, 8013 North Point Blvd., 336-759-9706

Remember to call ahead for hours of operation and be sure to donate glasses in good or excellent condition.

AgeWise is a weekly column compiled by the staff of Senior Services Inc., a Winston-Salem nonprofit organization. If you have a question, email or mail Senior Services, 2895 Shorefair Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27105.