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Dr. Lloyd's blog has now been retired. We appreciate all the wisdom and support Dr. Lloyd has brought to the WebMD community throughout the years.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Bug Bites and Blurry Vision

Hooray! Summer is almost here!

In our ‘neck of the woods’ the weather pattern vacillates but more and more days are sunny and warm. This sounds like a perfect opportunity to remind everyone about generous use of sunblocks as well as use of protective clothing and UV sunglasses.

Maybe so, but there’s a different outdoor threat to your vision you need to know about – insect bites!

How could a mosquito sting on your arm alter your eyesight?

What’s the connection between a tick bite and double vision?

The danger is not so much the bite itself, rather it is the exchange of infected fluids when an insect’s saliva or blood meal enters your own circulation. The specific threats are West Nile (a virus, blame mosquitoes) and Lyme Disease (a bacterium, blame deer ticks).

Serious infections by West Nile virus are rare but real! The entire central nervous system can be involved and this includes the brain, optic nerve, and retina. Case reports have already appeared in the medical literature. There is no specific medical treatment, supportive care only. Most survivors eventually recover good vision.

Lyme Disease has been around longer. It is caused by a spirochete (a tiny spiral-shaped bacterium called Bartonella). The circular rash from the tick bite is a valuable warning. Serious neurologic complications can develop. Permanent vision loss is caused by inflammation of the retina and optic nerve. Aggressive antibiotic therapy offers the best chance for complete recovery.

These infections have been confirmed in all 50 states. The risk of infection begins the moment you step outside the door of your house.

  • Clear your property of all standing water.
  • Use DEET insect repellants.
  • Wear long-sleeve shirts and trousers when walking through brush and forests.
  • Inspect your body and scalp for freeloading critters.
  • Finally, don’t forget to protect your pets from summer insect bites.

Now, aren’t you already longing for the return of cooler weather?

Related Topics: Summer Skin Makeover, Summer Safety for Kids

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Posted by: Bill Lloyd MD at 1:43 pm


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