Did You Know That a Tick Bite Could Lead to Vision Problems??



May is Lyme Disease Awareness month and Fox Vision Development wants to make sure you have the most up-to-date information on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases (TBD’s). Did you know that a tick bite could lead to vision problems?

Lyme and other diseases transmitted by ticks such as Bartonella, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Powassan Virus and others, can all wreak havoc on the visual system. Patients with tick-borne diseases may suffer from a number of symptoms related to their vision. These diseases can potentially cause damage to the eye itself or to the brain. Complaints from patients with Lyme and associated diseases include but are not limited to: double or blurry vision, light sensitivity, eye pain or swelling, floaters or seeing spots, red eyes, frequent conjunctivitis (pink eye), optic nerve and other various nerve palsies, difficulty with reading and/or comprehension, troubles with night vision, and weakened eye muscles. In children, Lyme disease can cause symptoms that mimic learning disabilities or ADHD. These symptoms can be partially caused by problems with the visual system. A simple routine eye exam may not catch a problem stemming from Lyme or other TBD’s. Many patients see numerous doctors including opthamologists and optometrists. They are told their acuity is fine or that no physical problem can be detected. However, a Developmental Optometrist has the appropriate tools to help with visual problems stemming from tick borne diseases.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Lyme or other TBD’s and suffers from any of the above symptoms, an exam by Dr. Fox or another Developmental Optometrist would likely be very beneficial. Also, with sudden vision changes such as those listed above, Lyme and tick-borne diseases should be considered as part of the differential diagnosis. It is important to note that current testing for Lyme disease is less than 50% accurate and this diagnosis should be based on signs, symptoms and patient history after other causes have been ruled out. Patients should be aware that many Lyme or tick-borne disease patients are misdiagnosed as having Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Lupus and many other diseases. Lyme is known as the “Great Imitator” for this reason.

Knowing that tick-borne diseases can damage so many systems of the human body, including the visual system, it is crucial to protect yourself from tick bites. If you are bitten by a tick, be sure to remove the entire tick from the skin by using tweezers or a tool specifically designed for tick removal. Never use foreign substances such as Vaseline, rubbing alcohol, or essential oils to remove the tick. Use of anything other than tweezers or tick removal tools can cause the tick to regurgitate its’ stomach contents into the human blood stream, transmitting any diseases the tick is carrying. While it is true that your risk of infection with the Lyme disease-causing bacteria goes up the longer the tick is attached, a review of the scientific evidence on how long ticks have to be attached before disease-causing microbes make it into your blood shows that it doesn’t have to take as long as 24-36 hours. An important note is that the only actual studies related to tick bites and human risk of disease have been done with animals, with only one single life stage of the tick, the nymph. Although the “bulls-eye” rash is a hallmark feature of Lyme disease, most people who ultimately are diagnosed with Lyme disease report they never saw any type of rash or a small red rash only in the days following a tick bite. One recent study, aptly titled: An Update on the Diagnosis and Treatment of early Lyme Disease: “Focusing on the bull’s eye, you may miss the mark,” highlights the need for health care providers (and the public in general) to be more aware that skin rashes with Lyme disease are not as common as first thought, and when they do appear, the rash takes the form of a “bulls-eye” less than 10% of the time. An individual should not take only one or two pills (prescribed by many medical professionals without scientific evidence) as it may further decrease the likelihood of accurate testing later on and has not been proven to prevent disease. It is crucial to educate yourself and your loved ones about the impact that Lyme and tick-borne diseases can have on your life. More information can be found on the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society’s website at www.ilads.org or by visiting www.lymedisease.org or Lyme Action Network on facebook. If you suffer from Lyme or a tick-borne coinfection and feel that it is affecting your vision, please contact our office for an evaluation at 518-374-8001.

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Category: Fox Vision Therapy Blog

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