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Ophthalmology. 2000 Mar;107(3):581-7.

The expanding clinical spectrum of ocular lyme borreliosis.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.



To delineate the clinical manifestations of ocular Lyme borreliosis, while concentrating on new symptoms and findings and the phase of appearance of ophthalmologic disorders.


Observational case series.


Ten patients with Lyme borreliosis-associated ophthalmologic findings previously reported from the Helsinki University Central Hospital in addition to 10 new cases that have since been diagnosed. INTERVENTION/TESTING: The patients underwent medical and ophthalmologic evaluation. The diagnosis of Lyme borreliosis was based on medical history, clinical ocular and systemic findings, determinations of antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and immunoblot analysis, the detection of DNA of B. burgdorferi by polymerase chain reaction, and exclusion of other infectious and inflammatory causes.


Ocular complaints, presenting ophthalmologic findings, and the stage of Lyme borreliosis were recorded.


Four patients presented with a neuro-ophthalmologic disorder, five had external ocular inflammation, 10 patients had uveitis, and one had branch retinal vein occlusion. One patient developed episcleritis and one patient developed abducens palsy within 2 months of the infection incident. In the remaining 14 patients in whom the time of infection was traced, the ocular manifestations appeared in the late stage of Lyme borreliosis. Two patients with a neuro-ophthalmologic disorder and one with external ocular inflammation experienced severe photophobia, whereas the main reported symptom of the patients with uveitis was decreased visual acuity. Four patients with external ocular disease and one with a neuro-ophthalmologic disorder experienced severe periodic ocular or facial pain. Retinal vasculitis developed in seven patients with uveitis.


Lyme borreliosis can cause a variety of ocular manifestations, which develop mainly in the late stage of the disease. Photophobia and severe periodic ocular pain can be characteristic symptoms of Lyme borreliosis. In the differential diagnosis of retinal vasculitis, Lyme borreliosis should be taken into account, especially in endemic areas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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