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Lyme Disease And Vision Loss

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Lyme Disease In Eye Care

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The landscape of how Lyme disease presents in ocular tissue continues to illustrate a threatening trend of increased virulence and visual devastation, Dr. Cooper notes. But Lyme can have significant systemic consequences, too, that make it important to identify the signs and symptoms of the disease. Those include encephalitis, arthritis, progressive neurological deficitssimilar to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, or ALSor even fatality.

“From an ocular perspective, the bacteria and/or parasitic versions can yield findings from the anterior to posterior segment, such as acute conjunctivitis to anterior scleritis, all the way to choroiditis and potentially panuveitis,” Dr. Cooper says.

Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause optic neuritis or vision loss resulting from encephalitis, while Bell’s palsy can also cause the cornea to dry out and up the risk of infection. So it’s vitally important that doctors of optometry get a clear picture of patients’ symptoms.

While erythema migransthe telltale rash after a tick biteis often the first recognizable sign, Dr. Cooper notes, it may not be present in all cases. The same is true of other characteristic signs of Lyme disease: the vector may masquerade as fever or flu-like symptoms that may or may not go away after an expected timeframe, while joint pain may or may not be present.

Lyme Disease And Your Eyes

Lyme disease is an infection that is caused by a spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans by the bite of a deer tick.

The disease has a strong geographical incidence, being highly concentrated in the Northeast United States and now also has a high incidence in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Lyme disease was first discovered in Old Lyme, Connecticut in 1975. It can start with a characteristic bulls eye rash, in which there is a central spot that is surrounded by clear skin that is then ringed by an expanding rash. It can also appear just as an expanding rash.

This rash usually starts within days of the tick bite. Eye problems can occur along with this rash in the first phase of the disease. This includes red eyes that can look like full-blown pink eye, along with eyelid swelling. It also can produce iritis or uveitis, which include sensitivity to light and inflammation inside the eye.

The second phase of the disease usually starts within a few weeks of the tick bite and this occurs because the spirochete gets into the blood stream. This stage often has rashes starting away from the original bite site. It can also produce joint pain, weakness, and inflammation in several organs including the heart, spleen, liver and kidneys.

The diagnosis is made by observing the presenting symptoms, being in an area where there are significant numbers of the disease-carrying ticks, and a blood test that can confirm the diagnosis.

What Are The Symptoms

The initial symptom in most persons infected with lyme disease is a red, spreading rash on the skin around the tick bite. This rash is known as erythema migrans. Sometimes a fever, flu-like symptoms and swollen glands accompany the rash. If left untreated, the rash fades in three to four weeks, but it can recur in some people.

Up to 50 percent of patients with lyme disease do not remember the initial rash or being bitten by a tick. Therefore, some people do not receive treatment right away. Without treatment, the infection can spread through the bloodstream into the joints, brain, eyes, and/or heart. Excruciating headaches may occur.

Three weeks to several months after the tick bit, 15 to 20 percent of patients develop neurologic disease or meningitis. The most common nerve-related problem is facial palsy . Bells palsy is a common term for paralysis on one side of the face.

Arthritis occurs in many persons with lyme disease, usually six months or longer after the tick bite. Four to eight percent of those with the disease develop cardiac involvement, usually heart block. This can in rare instances be fatal.

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How Was This Study Done

213 participants with PTLD were tested and results compared with controls. Visual CS was measured using a PelliRobson chart with forced-choice procedures, in which participants had to identify two of the three letters in each triplet to proceed with testing. The total number of letters read was recorded for each eye. CS impairment was defined for age < 60 years as logCS of 1.80 and for those age 60 years as logCS of 1.65 . Visual acuity testing was done using the Early Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy Study charts and protocols. Participants self-administered a questionnaire to assess presence of eye and vision symptoms and also underwent a neurologic exam and battery of neurocognitive tests

How Can Lyme Disease Affect Your Vision

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Lyme disease is an infection caused by a tick bite infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, the bacteria is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks.

Lyme disease initially affects the skin near the bite site. However, if left untreated, the infection can extend to the nervous system, joints and other organ systems.

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Here Are Some Specific Foods To Focus On As Dietary Lyme Disease Remedies:


Eggs tie into the diet in a variety of ways. They are not only a great source of energy, but they also have ultra-low carbohydrate content, which aids Lyme disease.

Nuts and Beans

Nuts and beans are high protein foods that are beneficial even beyond the scope of Lyme disease. Like eggs, they are a low-carbohydrate and high-protein energy source. An added benefit of nuts and beans is that they have high fiber content and are therefore helpful in digestion and nutrient uptake. They also contain antioxidants, which are helpful Lyme disease remedies, in addition to combating hormone dysregulation and other issues that you may encounter.


Fish can be beneficial. When you eat fish, make sure its wild caught and not full of coloring dyes. Also, make sure it is prepared in a healthy manner that doesnt contribute further to what youre suffering from.


Eat your vegetables. Eating a clean meal of vegetables with some tasty olive oil drizzled on top is a great way to recharge and lower inflammation. This practice on a daily basis is a natural Lyme disease remedy for your body and mind. Not only will this have a positive short-term effect on how you feel, charging you full of vitamins and minerals, but it will also help alleviate long-term chronic inflammation, which is a mainstay of Lyme disease.


Lyme Disease And Vision

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. In its early stages, Lyme disease commonly results in a rash, which can appear anywhere from one day to one month after a tick bite, joint pain and headaches. Later-stage Lyme disease is characterized by arthritic pain, cognitive difficulties, fatigue and other symptoms that can have an enormous effect on a patients life.

One tick may carry more than one disease, so sometimes people get more than one co-infection from the bite of a single tick. Experienced doctors may be able to distinguish each of the tick-borne co-infections and order appropriate tests and treatment.1 If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease occur each year in the U.S. However, some experts suggest this number may be under-estimated.

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Lyme Light Focuses On Notorious Tickborne Disease

Spring isn’t all sunshine and rainbows as warming temperatures bloom not only flowers but also vectors whose disease-laden cargo can manifest in patients’ eyes.

March signals the unofficial start of tick season in much of the continental U.S., and by consequence, most cases of Lyme disease thereby occur in late spring and early summer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 300,000 Lyme disease cases are diagnosed annually, most of which are concentrated in just 14 states across the Northeast and upper Midwest. However, that clustering seems to be scattering.

In 2018, the CDC announced cases of tickborne diseases had more than doubled from 2004 to 2016. Likewise, new studies suggest warming temperatures have expanded the geographic range of tick vectors, such as Ixodes , and animal carriers that typically harbor Borrelia burgdorferi. Those factors caused the CDC to conclude that the U.S. isn’t fully prepared to control the threat of tickborne disease.

“Tickborne disease is on the riseit’s not limited simply to Lyme disease,” says Michael Cooper, O.D. “But when it comes to Lyme disease, my chief goal is to shed light on this multivariate disease state that has been progressively increasing in both prevalence and incidence throughout the geographic United States.”

Symptoms Of Lyme Disease

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People with Lyme disease may react to it differently, and the symptoms can vary in severity.

Although Lyme disease is commonly divided into three stages early localized, early disseminated, and late disseminated symptoms can overlap. Some people will also present in a later stage of disease without having symptoms of earlier disease.

These are some of the more common symptoms of Lyme disease:

  • a flat, circular rash that looks like a red oval or bulls-eye anywhere on your body
  • other flu-like symptoms

These symptoms may occur soon after the infection, or months or years later.

Your child may have Lyme disease and not have the bulls-eye rash. According to an early study, results showed roughly 89 percent of children had a rash.

Lyme disease is best treated in the early stages. Treatment for early localized disease is a simple 10- to 14-day course of oral antibiotics to eliminate the infection.

Medications used to treat Lyme disease include:

  • doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime, which are first-line treatments in adults and children
  • cefuroxime and amoxicillin, which are used to treat women who are nursing or breastfeeding

Intravenous antibiotics are used for some forms of Lyme disease, including those with cardiac or central nervous system involvement.

After improvement and to finish the course of treatment, healthcare providers will typically switch to an oral regimen. The complete course of treatment usually takes 1428 days.

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What You Need To Know About Vision And Eyesight Can Lymes Disease Cause Vision Loss

If you are concerned about losing your vision, its important to get help as soon as possible. Your eye doctor can give you the best treatment options to help you maintain a productive life with your vision. A good ophthalmologist can help you understand your feelings and connect you with other resources. If you have lost your vision, your eye care provider can give you additional resources to ensure your quality of life and future. A good ophthalmologist will also help you understand whats happening with your eyes and work towards a solution.

There are many ways to prevent vision loss. You can get treatment to prevent your vision loss. The first step is to consult with a neurologist. They will examine your eye and its structure. Theyll help you determine whether you need surgery or not. If youre experiencing a sudden loss of sight, visit your doctor immediately. There are several ways to protect your vision. You can even visit a specialist to help prevent a cataract.

The Optic Nerve And Optic Neuritis

The optic nerve is actually more than one million individual nerves bundled together. Each nerve plays a significant role in sending information from the retina to the brain. Inflammation causes affected nerves to swell, which means they cannot work properly. The degree of visual impairment experienced with optic neuritis depends on how many nerve fibres are inflamed the more nerve fibres affected, the worse the symptoms. Generally, eyesight deteriorates over a few days rather than suddenly. The peak of vision loss usually happens about a week after the symptoms first appear.

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What Is The Impact Of This Work

Visual contrast sensitivity is altered in patients with PTLD. CS impairment is associated with signs of cognitive and neurologic impairment and may be a useful marker of Lyme disease illness severity. Further investigation into the value of testing CS impairment in PTLD cases is warranted, especially if it is an indicator of cognitive or neurologic abnormalities.

What Is Lyme Disease

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Each year an estimated 300,000 people are infected with Lyme disease. Youre more likely to get Lyme disease if you spend time in grassy or wooded areas. The infection is spread through a bite from a deer tick. A characteristic bulls-eye rash is an early sign. Other symptoms at the early stages include:

  • Chills
  • Cognitive difficulties

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Sensitivities To Light And Sound

One of the pioneers in Lyme disease research is Joseph J. Burrascano Jr., MD. In the early days of the disease, he came up with a checklist that doctors could use to diagnose itand it includes all of the above signs, as well as other previously observed symptoms like sensitivities to light and sound, muscle weakness, erectile dysfunction, and dental pain.

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Getting periodic eye exams is important to protect your eyes and prevent vision loss. You should have your eyes examined by an eye care professional every two to three years if you are under 50 years old. Annual exams are also recommended for people over 50 and those who have certain risk factors. You should have regular eye checkups and use durable eyewear. Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals and fireworks. You should also avoid jumping car batteries. To prevent vision loss, you should keep your eyes healthy by following the guidelines of the American Optometric Association.

Your diet is very important when it comes to protecting your eyes. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and try to limit your fat intake. Eating a low fat and sugar diet reduces your risk of AMD. If you smoke, you increase your chances of developing this disease. Make sure to wear sunglasses when you smoke and wear safety glasses when working with hazardous equipment. Even the smallest accidental eye injury can cause permanent damage in a matter of seconds. Can LymeS Disease Cause Vision Loss

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Visual Treatment Of Lyme Disease

Medical treatment for Lyme disease doesnt always address Lyme-related visual problems, and without treatment, vision may still be impaired long after medical treatment is completed.

Any inflammation in the body can negatively affect the functioning of the limbs and organs. This is especially true for the brain and the visual system, which are often affected by Lyme disease.

Thats where neuro-optometry can help.

Neuro-optometry evaluates how our eyes and brain function together. When Lyme disease affects that connection, a patients balance may be affected, causing their vision and depth perception to be affected as well.

A neuro-optometrist may utilize lenses, prisms and, in some situations, neuro-visual therapy. Neuro-visual therapy is a rehab program for those who have had a neurological incident that has affected their vision and its functioning/processing.

This is especially true in the case of children. Lyme disease can disrupt important developmental cycles, resulting in visual problems and the likelihood of developmental delays and learning difficulties.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with Lyme disease, contact Southwest Family Eye Health Center, to learn whether it has affected your vision.

Southwest Family Eye Health Center serves patients from Fort Worth, River Oaks, Westover Hills, and Dallas, Texas and surrounding communities.

What Is The Treatment

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In early stages of lyme disease, when the rash is apparent, the bacterial infection is treated successfully with oral antibiotics. These include doxycycline or tetracycline.

In late stages, when eye disease, arthritis or neurologic disease is present, therapy consists of intravenous antibiotics . However, in late stages antibiotics may be effective only to a certain extent or may even fail to work. In these cases, neurologic damage may progress or blindness may result.

Although much is now known about lyme disease, better ways to diagnose and treat it are still needed. Early recognition of the symptoms is important in avoiding severe medical problems later.

Lyme disease can be prevented. If you are in an area where ticks live, avoid wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts cover as much of your skin as possible. Use an insect repellent on your hands and face. If you live in an area where ticks are prevalent, watch out for signs of lyme disease. Immediately seek medical attention after a tick bite of if you develop a spreading rash.

Eye Facts is an informational series and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice. For eye appointments, call 996-6591. All Eye Facts illustrations and images are copyright protected and are the property of the UIC Board of Trustees. Unauthorized use of the images is prohibited. For usage of any Eye Facts content or illustrations please contact the Office of Medical Illustration at or 312-996-5309 for licensing.

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Children with vision problems often dont realize they have a problem. Theyll try to complete work with impaired comprehension, hold reading materials close to the face, and have trouble remembering what theyve read. They may also be unable to see clearly or turn their heads to read. While a child may not be aware that they have a vision problem, theyll probably tell you if theyre not reading well.

Some common vision problems include refractive errors, which affect over 150 million people in the United States. These errors make it difficult for the eye to focus light on the retina. Despite the fact that these errors may cause blurred vision, they can be treated easily with contact lenses or eyeglasses. If the problem is severe, surgery or medical treatment may be required. The best way to avoid this is to have an eye exam. The doctor will then be able to prescribe the proper corrective lenses. Can LymeS Disease Cause Vision Loss

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