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How Can Lyme Disease Affect Your Vision?

How Can Lyme Disease Affect Your Vision 640Lyme disease is rampant in New Jersey.  It was first identified in Lyme, Connecticut and has become rampant throughout the Atlantic seaboard.

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.  The ticks are carried by Deer and it is therefore called a Deer Tick.  It can also be carried by and transmitted by other furry animals, such as dogs.

Lyme disease initially affects the skin near the bite site. In about 30% of the cases, it leaves a characteristic "wheel-like" bite appearance.  If left untreated, the infection can extend to the nervous system, joints and other organ systems.

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease symptoms usually include a rash at the site of the bite that looks like a bull’s eye.  Further symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands

As the disease progresses, one may develop memory loss, attention problems and numbness in the hands, feet and arms.  It can cause Bell's palsy, which means that half of the face muscles are affected.

How Does Lyme Disease Affect Vision?

Lyme disease is typically divided into 3 stages: (1) early localized, (2) early disseminated and (3) late disseminated. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Lyme disease can affect the eyes at any stage.

The severity of eye problems can vary greatly. Different symptoms appear at different phases of the infection. The following are examples of possible Lyme disease eye complications:

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis, often known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the white part of the eye known as the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis usually appears within the first several weeks of the infection. It affects about 10% of those who have Lyme disease. Symptoms include red eyes, itchy eyes and discharge.

Light Sensitivity

Sensitivity to light can occur.

Inflammation

Lyme Disease can cause inflammation of the eye structures. Eye inflammation commonly appears in the third or late stages of the disease. Inflammation of the optic nerve can cause vision loss. Optic neuritis symptoms include eye pain, color vision loss, and flashing lights.

Inflammation of the retinal vessels (within the eye) can also cause impaired vision and floaters. Bell's palsy-like symptoms might arise if the facial nerves become inflamed. Symptoms may make it difficult to close the eye, causing the cornea to become dry and potentially infected.

Visual Treatment of Lyme Disease

Medical treatment for Lyme disease doesn’t always address Lyme-related visual problems.  If thes eproblems go untreated, vision may be impaired long after medical treatment is completed.

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

That’s where Neuro-Optometry can help.

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

Neuro-Optometrists offer a specialized program of  neuro-visual therapy, called Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation.  This rehabilitation program is specific for individuals who have had a neurological incident that has affected their vision and its functioning/processing.  It may also include special lenses, prisms, and a special form of light therapy, Syntonic Phototherapy.

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 Family Eye Care, to learn whether it has affected your vision.

Family Eye Care serves patients from Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Woodbridge, and Edison, New Jersey and surrounding communities.


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