Weight Loss Tips: Real-Life Steps That Worked

Understanding How Lyme Disease Can Affect Your Vision

Vision problems associated with Lyme disease can affect individuals of any age but are often overlooked in the early stages of the disease. While the disease can affect any part of the eye, treatment with oral antibiotics usually is effective if vision problems are identified early. But as the disease progresses, inflammation of the eye can occur. Untreated vision symptoms can lead to permanent damage to the eyes or even blindness in some cases. 


When the bacteria that cause Lyme disease invade the eyes, the symptoms the spirochetes (bacteria) cause differ depending on what parts of the eyes are affected. In the early stage of Lyme disease, symptoms may be mild and intermittent. Later on in the disease, individuals can experience multiple eye and vision symptoms as neurological problems may add to existing visual symptoms.

Vision problems that can occur include:

  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye) -- inflammation of the mucous membrane that covers the white of the eye

  • Blurred vision

  • Photophobia -- sensitivity to light that can cause eye pain

  • Keratitis -- inflammation of the cornea that causes pain and reduced vision

  • Retinal pigment epithelial detachment -- a medical emergency that can lead to vision loss or blindness

  • Iritis -- a painful inflammation affecting the iris of the eye that can cause blurred vision

  • Uveitis -- inflammation of the uvea (the middle layer of the eye that supplies blood to the retina), which can lead to mild to severe vision loss

  • Orbital myositis -- inflammation of the eye muscles that can cause pain, swollen eyelids, and impaired eye movement

  • Optic neuritis -- inflammation of the optic nerve that can cause loss of vision

Neurological symptoms of Lyme disease that can affect the eyes include:

  • Retrobulbar neuritis -- a form of optic neuritis that can impair vision

  • Optic nerve atrophy -- damage to the optic nerve

  • Papilloedema -- swelling around the optic nerve

  • Pseudotumor cerebri -- increased intracranial pressure that can cause swelling of the optic nerve and lead to vision loss

  • Bell's palsy -- temporary paralysis of the muscles surrounding the eye and eyelid that can prevent your eye from blinking normally

Any of these neurological symptoms can affect one or both eyes. In some cases, individuals may experience transient vision symptoms between the two eyes.


Although diagnosing vision problems related to Lyme disease often involves ruling out other underlying causes, treating eye problems that appear in the later stages of the disease generally focus on preventing permanent vision damage. When long-term infection is present, oral antibiotics may not be effective. Treatment may require the use of intravenous antibiotic therapy or topical corticosteroids. For further assistance, contact a local optometrist, such as one from Ashworth Vision Clinic.