May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and we thought we should write about it since it’s something our optometrists occasionally see signs of during routine eye exams. You may see the occasional friend on Facebook biting into a lime and taking a selfie, and you might wonder what they’re doing. Well now you know, they’re promoting awareness of Lyme Disease, a growing epidemic around the country and world. Some local news outlets will likely run a special on Lyme Disease this month.
The CDC recently updated its projections on the number of cases of Lyme disease each year to about 300,000. The ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Disease Society) website has a quick Lyme disease fact sheet which can be very helpful if you or someone you know has encountered this devastating disease. A local Louisville church,Hurstbourne Christian, hosts a popular support group for those affected in the Kentuckiana area.
Lyme Disease Often Affects the Eyes
Lyme Disease can create systemic inflammation throughout the body, but especially neurologically. This could mean inflammation of the facial nerves (bell’s palsy type symptoms) and optic nerve, and thus the reason why our optometrists might see signs in a routine eye exam. Many Lyme patients may also experience a drastic increase in floaters at the onset of the infection. Both these symptoms are on the Burrascano Checklist, the gold standard in clinical diagnosis for Lyme disease, and used by most Lyme Literate Medical Doctors (LLMD’s).
Lyme Disease is a tick-borne (or vector-borne) disease. It’s most commonly spread by tick bites from various ticks, but predominantly deer ticks. In some parts of the country, it may also be passed via mosquitos or other insects.
Diagnosis is one of the trickiest parts of Lyme Disease. It’s called the great imitator because it gets misdiagnosed as many things like Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS, lupus, fibromyalgia, thyroid issues, Parkinson’s, dystonia and ALS to name a few.
Treatment approaches vary greatly, and many patients can become chronic if an initial round of antibiotics doesn’t clear the infection. This is a heated and much debated part of Lyme Disease.
Several Major Health Risks Can Be Detected in a Routine Eye Exam
In the past, we’ve written about other health risks that our optometrists see in their comprehensive eye exams. Over the course of this year, we’ll highlight a few of these health risks like cancer, MS, and diabetes.
Sometimes our optometrists find eye-related issues like detached retinas during a routine exam, and catching these things early is the key to prevention and proper treatment. A few weeks back we shared a recent testimonial for a patient who had this exact scenario. You can watch that video here.
If you’ve put off a routine eye exam for too long, now is the time to schedule your comprehensive eye exam. Beat the out of school rush by booking your appointment in the coming weeks.