Lyme disease is transmitted from a deer tick, or black-legged tick, to humans within 36 hours after attaching itself to your body. For a tick to survive, it must feed on blood. While doing so, it passes the Lyme disease bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi into your bloodstream. The bacteria travel to locations on your body where they can hide and multiply. Scar tissue around joints is where they can often be found.
Lyme disease symptoms will appear within a few days to a few weeks.
The Bullseye Rash
A red bullseye rash is a sign you want to find if you have been infected with Lyme bacteria. The rash can be located anywhere on your body but is often near the tick bite. Receiving antibiotic treatment as soon as you see the rash is the best opportunity to get rid of a Lyme infection. Unfortunately, not everyone develops a rash. Or if they do, it is in a place that was not noticeable.
Additional symptoms will appear within the first month after a tick bite.
Early Lyme Disease Symptoms
With or without a rash, you can expect to experience one or all the following Lyme disease symptoms:
- Joint stiffness, swelling, pain
- Neck stiffness
- Sore throat
- Swollen glands
- Anxiety, depression
If Lyme disease is left untreated, symptoms will worsen and interfere with daily functioning. New symptoms may appear, including facial palsy, shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, numbness, tingling sensations in hands or feet, and brain and spinal cord inflammation. Arthritis is one of the more severe, debilitating symptoms of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease symptoms will vary for each person, and the list can be more extensive. For some, Lyme disease may affect vision.
Visual Symptoms of Lyme Disease
In the early stages of Lyme disease, you may experience blurred vision or double vision. For example, when reading, words may appear to be doubled. You may also experience eye fatigue and headaches associated with eye strain.
The longer Lyme disease goes untreated, and visual problems may increase. Your eyes may become inflamed, and you may start to see floaters or spots, as well as develop a sensitivity to light.
Although very rare, acute vision loss can occur. Below are the more common vision problems associated with Lyme disease.
Conjunctivitis, known by most people as pink eye, is caused by bacteria or viruses. It can be very contagious when a virus is a culprit. When Lyme disease is the cause, the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria cause inflammation, redness, and tenderness to the white part of the eyeball. Other symptoms may include pain, feeling like something is in your eye, burning, itching, watering, and a thick discharge.
Photophobia is the fear of light. You want to avoid bright lights due to the pain it causes visually. Light sensitivity can lead to severe migraines and can be debilitating.
Swelling around the eyes is also called periorbital edema, which can be Lyme disease symptoms. You may attribute this swelling to aging, allergies, or lack of sleep. But if it continues after treating the other possible causes, it may be related to Lyme disease.
The cornea is the clear, round feature at the front of your eye. It can become infected by bacteria, including Borrelia burgdorferi connected to Lyme disease. The infection is called bacterial keratitis. If left untreated, it can eventually lead to reduced vision or blindness.
Symptoms include excessive tears, redness, sudden pains, discharge, and light sensitivity.
The iris, or the colored part of the eye, and the muscles and tissues that help the eye focus can become inflamed. When this happens, it is known as iridocyclitis. You may experience blurred vision, red eyes, and eye pain.
When your optic nerve is inflamed, you may be diagnosed with optic neuritis. When nerve fibers are inflamed, it can be excruciating and leads to reduced vision, including blurred vision and the inability to differentiate colors.
Oculomotor palsy is sometimes called third nerve palsy, about the third cranial nerve. This nerve is responsible for many functions within the eye, including pupil constriction, eye movement, and eye rotation, to name a few.
Symptoms of oculomotor palsy include double vision, droopy eyelids, lazy eye, or ocular deviation.
While this is a broad name for several eye problems, it is crucial to understand the symptoms. If left untreated, they can lead to more serious medical conditions. Ocular inflammation is a sign that your body is trying to fight infection. Inflammation is the body’s defense mechanism when foreign invaders, such as bacteria enter the system.
With Lyme disease, the body must continually signal a release of inflammation until the bacteria are eliminated. This becomes a problem when Lyme bacteria go dormant or into hiding. When this happens, inflammation continues, leading to serious eye problems.
Finding the Right Treatment
Your first thought in treating vision problems is with an optometrist or eye doctor. While this is not a bad idea, it is not the best idea.
When vision problems are caused by Lyme disease, you must work with a physician who specializes in Lyme disease, often called a Lyme-literate doctor.
Lyme-literate doctors have spent many years above their time in medical school training and practicing in the Lyme disease field. They are researchers and contributors to the industry. Lyme-literate doctors have advanced testing methods, including microscopic analysis of your blood to separate and examine bacteria.
If you have problems with your vision and suspect it may be related to Lyme disease, contact a Lyme literate doctor today. Don’t wait for your general doctors to rule out other disorders. Your pain deserves the proper treatment as soon as possible.
When searching for a Lyme literate doctor, choose a leader in the industry, even if they are outside the states. One visit to a Lyme specialist can save you the time and money you will spend being repeatedly referred in the United States.