The eye and tick-borne disease in the United States

Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2016 Nov;27(6):530-537. doi: 10.1097/ICU.0000000000000308.


Purpose of review: Tick-borne diseases are increasing in incidence and geographic distribution. Several diseases endemic to the United States have ophthalmic manifestations, including the most common tick-borne disease, Lyme borreliosis. As ocular complaints may lead a patient to seek medical evaluation, it is important to be aware of the systemic and ophthalmic manifestations of tick-borne diseases in order to make the correct diagnosis.

Recent findings: Vision-threatening ophthalmic manifestations are relatively common in Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ocular involvement is rare in babesiosis, tick-borne relapsing fever, Powassan encephalitis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and Colorado tick fever.There are clear guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease; however, confusion and misinformation among the general public as well as controversy about chronic or late-stage Lyme disease can impact the evaluation of ophthalmic disease. Furthermore, there are many gaps in our knowledge regarding the pathophysiology of ocular borreliosis although it seems likely that Lyme uveitis is rare in the United States.

Summary: Knowledge of systemic and ophthalmic manifestations combined with an understanding of the epidemiology of disease vectors is crucial for the diagnosis of tick-borne diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Babesiosis / complications
  • Colorado Tick Fever / complications
  • Ehrlichiosis / complications
  • Encephalitis, Tick-Borne / complications
  • Eye Infections / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / complications
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever / complications
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / complications*
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Tularemia / complications
  • United States