Viruses, Parasites & Bacteria

Vision can be affected by Lyme disease, Malaria and Meningitis. 

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. In its early stages, Lyme disease commonly results in a rash, which can appear anywhere from one day to one month after a tick bite, joint pain and headaches. Later-stage Lyme disease is characterized by arthritic pain, cognitive difficulties, fatigue and other symptoms that can have an enormous effect on a patient’s life. It is important to mention to your practitioner if you have episodes of tick bite fever in your medical history. 

How does Lyme Disease Affect Vision?

In the early stages, visual symptoms can include: blur, visual fatigue, double vision, headaches associated with visual activities, losing place when reading, seeing words appear to double or become double when reading, and more obscure problems often not associated with vision such as difficulty with balance, spatial orientation, memory, comprehension, feeling of being over-whelmed by being in a busy-crowded environment with movement of people and objects and sensitivity to sound.  In later stages of the disease, inflammation of the eye may develop. Parts of the eye that may be affected include the uvea, the middle layer inside the eye, the cornea, part of the outer coat of the eye; the iris, the colored circle around the pupil, and the choroid, a layer of blood vessels in the eye.  Symptoms can include sensitivity to light and floaters (spots in front of the eyes)

Meningitis 

There are several causes of this disease, including infections by bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

  • Bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening and spreads between people in close contact with each other.
  • Viral meningitis tends to be less severe, and most people recover completely without treatment.
  • Fungal meningitis is a rare form of the disease. It usually happens only in people whose immune system has been weakened.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord. The swelling from meningitis typically triggers symptoms such as headache, fever and a stiff neck.

Meningitis and Vision

  • Meningitis can damage the nerve responsible for sight (the optic nerve), resulting in partial loss of vision or blindness in one or both eyes
  • Many people experience temporary eyesight difficulties due to optic nerve swelling after meningitis
  • Changes in sight can be a permanent or temporary effect of meningitis. Damage to the optic nerve can result in partial sight loss or blindness in one or both eyes. Swelling of optic nerves can produce temporary eyesight difficulties.

Malaria

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite. The parasite is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. People who have malaria usually feel very sick, with a high fever and shaking chills.

Malaria and Vision

If parasite-filled blood cells block small blood vessels to your brain (cerebral malaria), swelling of your brain or brain damage may occur. Cerebral malaria may cause seizures and coma.  

Visual disruption occurs as there are over 35 areas in the brain associated with visual processing. An infectious disease causing disruptions of brain tissue, therefor also causes risk of disrupted visual function.