Welcome to Eyes.com, featuring the best information about LASIK, cataract treatment, eye diseases, glaucoma, and all things optical. Please upgrade your Flash Plugin and enable JavaScript to see our eye care video.

Ocular Syphilis

Due to its ease of transmission, syphilis outbreaks can occur at anytime in any place. In 2002, there were 12 million new syphilis cases reported across the world. While the sexually transmitted disease is more of a problem in third world nations, recently there has also been a rise in syphilis cases in the United States. In 2007, the U.S. syphilis rate increased for the seventh consecutive year. Between 2000 and 2007, the United States has seen a 76% increase in the syphilis rate.

Ocular syphilis is a form of the sexually transmitted disease affecting your eyes. It can be acquired at birth from a mother who is infected or, as an adult, through sexual encounters. The disease is generally spread through sores present on the infected carrier.

Causes of Ocular Syphilis

Ocular syphilis is caused by the spirochete bacteria Treponema palidum.

Symptoms of Ocular Syphilis

You may develop the following conditions if you have ocular syphilis:

Many ocular syphilis patients also suffer from increased intraocular pressure, also called Inflammatory Ocular Hypertension Syndrome. At times, the following areas of your eye may be affected:

  • Retina
  • Blood vessels
  • Vitreous humor

Diagnosis of Ocular Syphilis

Ocular syphilis is typically diagnosed using serologic testing. The antibodies in your blood serum will be identified to determine the type of infection you are suffering from. Serologic testing can also be performed on other bodily fluids such as semen and saliva.

Treatment of Ocular Syphilis

Ocular syphilis is treated with antibiotics. Penicillin is the most common antibiotic used to treat the disease at all stages of its development.

Patients who are allergic to penicillin may be treated with the following antibiotics:

  • Tetracycline
  • Doxycycline
  • Chloramphenicol
  • Ceftriaxone

It is important to seek treatment at the first sign of the disease. If untreated, ocular syphilis can lead to other vision complications, including:

If you believe you may have contracted ocular syphilis, please contact an eye doctor in your area today to schedule an appointment.

Schedule An Appointment
Ask an Eye Surgeon