Maine Lyme Disease & Your Eyes

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Maine Lyme Disease & Your Eyes

Maine Ophthalmologist Jordan Sterrer, M.D. commented on the effects of Lyme Disease and your eye. “Lyme Disease affects all the systems of the body-including the eyes-and can be devastating to an individual if not treated properly and in a timely manner,” says Dr. Sterrer, M.D. of Eyecare Medical Group in Portland, Maine. “We are all familiar with the common symptoms of Lyme Disease, but few people are aware of the eye and ocular manifestations that the disease can have.” Lyme disease is a bacterium transmitted by a tick bite and is most commonly characterized by a bull’s-eye rash that develops after contact. The tick much be attached to the skin for at least 24 hours for the infection to develop. Left untreated, the clinical manifestations of Lyme Disease occur in 3 stages. Early infection, stage 1, is the localized bull’s-eye skin rash. Few other symptoms accompany this stage; however, ocular manifestations such as conjunctivitis and photophobia, or light sensitivity, can be present. Stage 2 is the early infection stage and where the severe ocular effects of the disease can begin, although these symptoms can take several weeks to months to appear. These include double vision, or diplopia, optic neuritis, blurred vision, Bell’s palsy, and uveitis. Stage 3 is the late persistent infection stage. Symptoms during this stage are more severe and eye conditions such as episcleritis, keratitis, iritis, panuveitis, exudative retinal detachment and branch retinal artery occlusion can be present.

Treating the ocular effects of LD requires treating the disease itself as well as the effects on the eye. Early treatment with antibiotics is the best way to prevent issues later. However, if the disease isn’t discovered until it’s already in the later stages, any symptoms that arise as a result will also need to be treated. Lyme Disease is most often treated with antibiotics but the stage of the disease will depend on whether or not it is treated with oral or IV medications, and what type of antibiotics will be used, as well as how long the treatment course will be. Any ocular issues that occur as a result of LD will need to be treated as they would if the disease was not present. Patients and ophthalmologists should be aware that treatment may take much longer than if LD was not present.

"Because of the mild winter and spring we’ve had here in Maine, ticks are predicted to be exceptionally bad this year. It is important to take all the proper precautions to prevent exposure to Lyme Disease. The best way to do this is to wear long pants and insect repellent, and to avoid areas where ticks are present when at all possible. If you are in heavily wooded areas or areas with tall grass or lots of shrubs, it is important to thoroughly check yourself for ticks. Showering as soon as possible after being outside also limits your chances of getting a tick bite,” noted Dr. Sterrer.

If you have questions or concerns about Lyme Disease and your eyes please schedule an appointment at Eyecare Medical Group at 888-374-2020 or visit or

Eyecare Medical Group is a leading ophthalmology practice in Portland, Maine staffed by a team of eye care specialists including eye doctors who are fellowship trained glaucoma specialists, retina specialists, cornea specialists and cataract and lens implant specialists-all board certified Ophthalmologists-as well as Optometrists, Opticians, technical and administrative staff who provide eye examinations for adults and children, diagnosis and treatment of cataracts, cataract surgery and intraocular lens implants, (IOL), laser vision correction such as LASIK, diagnosis and treatment of cornea disease including cornea transplants, care for diseases of the retina including diabetic retinopathy and age related macular degeneration and diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.

Eyecare Medical Group is conveniently located for patients from throughout Maine including Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Bath, Berwick, Biddeford, Bridgeton, Brunswick, Cape Neddick, Casco Bay, Cumberland Center, Eliot, Freeport, Gardiner, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Kittery, Lewiston, Old Orchard Beach, Sanford, Scarborough, South Portland, Springvale, Topsham, Waterville, Westbrook, Winslow, Wiscasset, Yarmouth, Portland, Skowhegan and York Maine.