The fall is often a time of outdoor joy, as families go apple picking and later on, pumpkin picking. But the fall is also a time when ticks are at their worst. The combination of outdoor activities and ticks leads to a rise in Lyme disease cases every autumn.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease caused by bacteria that are transmitted by ticks. It can affect many different systems in the body causing a myriad of symptoms, including:
- a circular “bullseye” rash (a telltale sign of Lyme disease)
Unfortunately, Lyme disease can also affect the eyes.
How Lyme Disease Can Affect the Eyes
In the early stages of Lyme disease, many people have conjunctivitis or pink eye. This causes red, uncomfortable eyes with a discharge of pus.
In later stages of the disease, inflammation of the eye may develop. Symptoms can include:
- sensitivity to light
- floaters (spots in front of the eyes)
Inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis) can also occur, which results in diminished vision. Inflammation in the brain can also cause loss of vision.
In addition, people with Lyme disease may experience Bell’s palsy, and in turn, may lose their ability to blink or close their eyes. This dries the cornea and can result in an infection or a hole in the cornea, which can put vision at risk.
Diagnosing Lyme Disease During COVID
Many of the symptoms of Lyme disease — fever, headache, fatigue, and even pink eye — are identical to the growing list of possible COVID-19 symptoms. That can make it tougher to diagnose either disease during the pandemic.
What to Do:
If you exhibit any of the symptoms of either of these diseases, seek a doctor or clinician in your area that can provide a COVID-19 test. In addition, be sure to quarantine for 14 days until you know whether you have COVID or not.
Once COVID is ruled out, your doctor may test you for Lyme disease and begin treatment.