What is Ocular Histoplasmosis?
Ocular histoplasmosis is an eye disease that affects the retina and choroid. It is caused by a fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum and is most common in areas where there are a lot of birds. It is most often found in the Ohio River valley, parts of the Midwest, and the Mississippi valley. It can also occur in other parts of the world, such as South America. Symptoms of ocular histoplasmosis can include blurry vision, floaters, flashes of light, or dark spots in the vision.
Causes and Risk Factors of Ocular Histoplasmosis
The primary cause of ocular histoplasmosis is exposure to the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum, which is found in soil that contains bird droppings, especially in moist indoor or outdoor areas. The risk of contracting the fungus and developing ocular histoplasmosis is increased if the number of bats and birds around your home is high, and if the soil is moist and disturbed, creating airborne particles.
Symptoms of Ocular Histoplasmosis
Common symptoms of ocular histoplasmosis include:
- Blurry Vision: Objects may appear blurry or you may have difficulty focusing on objects.
- Flashes of Light: You may see flashes of light in your eyes, particularly in dimly lit areas or at night.
- Floaters: You may see spots or strings that float in your field of vision.
- Dark Spots: You may have dark spots in your vision.
Diagnosing Ocular Histoplasmosis
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and the risk factors mentioned above, and may also take a sample of your blood to check for the presence of the fungus. Additionally, your doctor may recommend a funduscopy to look for signs of the disease, such as scarring or lesions on the retina or choroid. They may also order an optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan or a fluorescein angiography (FA) to look for signs of the disease in your retina.
Treating Ocular Histoplasmosis
Treatment for ocular histoplasmosis typically involves medications to reduce the inflammation and fight the fungus, as well as to slow down the progression of the disease. These medications include steroids, antimicrobial drugs, and antifungal drugs. In some cases, your doctor may recommend laser surgery or cryotherapy to reduce the swelling and scarring associated with the condition.
Preventing Ocular Histoplasmosis
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of contracting ocular histoplasmosis, such as avoiding areas where there are a lot of birds, wearing a mask when cleaning up bird feces, and limiting your time outdoors when the air is humid. Additionally, it’s important to avoid touching your face after coming into contact with bird droppings.
Living with Ocular Histoplasmosis
Living with ocular histoplasmosis can be challenging, as the disease can cause scarring and loss of vision. However, with early diagnosis and proper treatment, you can help to slow down the progression of the disease and reduce the risk of complications. Additionally, it’s important to take steps to prevent the disease, such as avoiding areas where there are a lot of birds and limiting your time outdoors when the air is humid.
Ocular histoplasmosis is an eye disease caused by exposure to the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. Common symptoms include blurry vision, floaters, flashes of light, and dark spots in the vision. Your doctor can diagnose ocular histoplasmosis by taking a sample of your blood, performing a funduscopy, or ordering an OCT scan or FA. Treatment typically involves medications to reduce inflammation and fight the fungus, as well as laser surgery or cryotherapy in some cases. Additionally, you can reduce your risk of contracting ocular histoplasmosis by avoiding areas with a lot of birds and wearing a mask when cleaning up bird feces.