Symptoms of ocular histoplasmosis
The symptoms of ocular histoplasmosis are:
1) Visual disturbances (blurred vision, double vision, blurry images, double images)
2) Hearing disturbances (hearing loss, deafness, hearing loss with distortion)
3) Muscle weakness (muscle atrophy, muscle spasms, myoclonus or twitching of muscles)
4) Digestive problems (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain)
5) Skin changes (rashes, sores, scabs)
6) Skeletal problems (bone pain, skeletal deformities, bone loss)
7) Neurological problems (seizures, headaches, mental confusion)
8) Respiratory problems (breathing difficulties, shortness of breath)
Due to the nature of this condition, it is not uncommon for patients to experience more than one symptom at any given time.
A known complication of ocular histoplasmosis is the effect on the central nervous system, which can lead to several neurological problems such as seizures.
Ocular histoplasmosis is a very rare condition that can also have a rare complication known as ocular demyelinating disease, which is the destruction of the myelin sheath that protects the nerves.
As with other complications of ocular histoplasmosis, this condition can result in permanent vision loss if not treated immediately.
Ocular histoplasmosis, in general, is a rare condition that is difficult to detect and diagnose.
Ocular histoplasmosis should be suspected in patients that have a history of exposure to bird or bat droppings in an outdoor setting and who present with blurry vision, especially if the patient also has a compromised immune system.
Ocular histoplasmosis can be confirmed by a medical professional through various diagnostic tests including medical imaging of the eye such as an MRI or CT scan.
Ocular histoplasmosis is a rare condition that most commonly affects people that are exposed to bird and bat droppings in their professional capacity, such as farmers and veterinarians, but it can affect anybody that has been directly exposed to the droppings.
The condition can be difficult to diagnose due to the rarity of the disease and the fact that the symptoms mimic those of other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
The condition can be treated with a combination of high dose steroids and other immunosuppressants, but this treatment is not always effective and the long-term side effects are still unknown.
Research is being conducted to find a permanent cure for ocular histoplasmosis.
Ocular histoplasmosis is a rare condition brought on by a reaction to the fungus histoplasmosis, which grows in the droppings of birds and bats.
The histoplasmosis fungus can become airborne and affect the lungs or it can be ingested through contact with contaminated soil, bird and bat droppings or even consumed in contaminated raw fruit or vegetables.
In most cases, the body will fight off the infection naturally and no ill effects will be felt.
However, in some cases the infection can take hold and spread throughout the body.
Ocular histoplasmosis is a complication of the histoplasmosis infection that affects the eyes and can result in permanent vision loss.
The histoplasmosis fungus affects the tiny capillaries in the retina of the eye, which over time causes them to harden and stop working properly, leading to poor vision and in severe cases, blindness.
People that are immunocompromised, such as those with AIDS, cancer or undergoing long-term steroid treatment, are at a much greater risk of contracting ocular histoplasmosis due to the compromised condition of their immune systems.
Ocular histoplasmosis is a difficult condition to diagnose due to the rarity of the disease and the fact that the symptoms mimic those of other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
In addition to blurry vision or loss of vision in one eye, the patient may also experience visual hallucinations, which often take the form of wavy lines or flickering lights.
The most common cause of ocular histoplasmosis is the direct exposure to bird droppings and infection can be contracted by cleaning out a bird cage that has not been cleaned for some time or even by walking through soil contaminated with bird droppings.
Wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves and a face mask can prevent the spread of the disease, however, due to the low risk of exposure and severity of the disease, it is not always recommended.
People with a compromised immune system are advised to avoid any potential sources of infection.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Ocular histoplasmosis. (TF Schlaegel Jr – 1977 – cabdirect.org)
- Multifocal choroiditis and panuveitis: a syndrome that mimics ocular histoplasmosis (RF Dreyer, JDM Gass – Archives of ophthalmology, 1984 – jamanetwork.com)
- An epidemiologic study of presumed ocular histoplasmosis. (RE Smith, JP Ganley – Transactions Amer. Acad. Ophthal. Otolaryng …, 1971 – cabdirect.org)
- Follow-up study of presumed ocular histoplasmosis syndrome (ML Lewis, MR van Newkirk, JDM Gass – Ophthalmology, 1980 – Elsevier)
- Changes around the optic nervehead: In presumed ocular histoplasmosis (TF Schlaegel, D Kenney – American Journal of Ophthalmology, 1966 – ajo.com)
- Aetiological study of the presumed ocular histoplasmosis syndrome in the Netherlands (JV Ongkosuwito, LM Kortbeek… – British journal of …, 1999 – bjo.bmj.com)