I’ve had histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis

Image via Wikipedia

Who knew?  When I visited my eye doctor, she asked me if I’d ever been diagnosed with histoplasmosis.  I was like, “what?  noooo”…She explained that it’s fairly common in this area (I’m in south central Indiana, but we’re still considered part of the Ohio Valley).   It occurs when we breathe in airborne spores from contaminated ground (gardening is one activity that could put you at potential risk) or from dried bird or bat droppings (I’ve always had bird feeders and bird baths in my yard).  She explained that I have scarring in the outer portions of both eyes, that it isn’t anything to be worried about at this time, that a lot of people have had histoplasmosis and never even knew about it.  It starts as a respiratory disease, but can affect other areas of the body.  She told me that it had affected my eyes, but that there was no indication that it was active in my body now.  She did caution me to call for an immediate appointment if I happened to notice a sudden change in my vision, that the disease can recur and could cause serious issues with my vision.  She said that particular scenario isn’t likely, but she wanted me to understand that there was a possibility and to know what to do if it should occur.

I did some online research and it sounds like it doesn’t cause serious problems for most people who are exposed to it, but that it can be fatal to people with compromised immune systems.  I’ve had respiratory problems in the past, have had pneumonia several times, have had what I thought were colds that I couldn’t seem to shake (that was one of the questions that my eye doctor asked me).  So now I’m writing a list of questions to ask my doctor at my appointment next month.  I don’t want to be a hypochondriac, but I do believe in being proactive with your health. 

I always knew that your eye doctor could tell a lot about a variety of health issues (such as diabetes) with an exam.  But this one surprised me.  I had no idea that this was even something to be concerned about.  I wonder why my old doctor never mentioned that this was a possibility…I hope this new doctor will have some answers for me.

Have you ever heard of/experienced histoplasmosis?