Lyme disease is a tick borne infectious disease caused by the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb). It is well known that Bb can disseminate from a tick bite throughout the body to the joints, heart, and nervous system. Less well known, is the impact that Lyme disease can have on the eyes.
Research at our Center has identified impairments in eye functioning and eye inflammation in patients with Lyme disease:
- Visual contrast sensitivity impairment occurs in post treatment Lyme disease patients and is linked to signs of cognitive and neurologic impairment and may be a marker of illness severity.
- Horner Syndrome with Negative Serology is an unusual presentation of Lyme disease.
- Lyme disease can also be an uncommon cause of Scleritis in endemic areas.
Potential eye or neuro-ophthalmologic symptoms that could be associated with Lyme disease include:
- Cranial nerve damage resulting in double vision
- Optic nerve inflammation
- Loss in contrast sensitivity
- Uveitis or inflammation of the middle layer of the eye
- having a red eye with or without pain
- being very sensitive to bright light
- having blurry vision
- seeing eye floaters (specks or moving clouds in your vision)
- Scleritis or inflammation of the white part of the eye
- tenderness of the eye
- redness and swelling of the white part of the eye
- blurred vision
- extreme sensitivity to light
- inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that line the eyelid and eyeball
- Inflammation of the retina
If you have painful eye symptoms or changes in your vision, please see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. If you have a history of Lyme disease or live in an endemic Lyme disease region, Lyme disease could be a potential cause of your symptoms. Treatment for Lyme disease can potentially alleviate your eye symptoms.