New reports have revealed that there is currently an “outbreak” of ocular syphilis – the sexually transmitted infection that can make you go blind.
According to the Centres for Disease Control, there were 12 cases of this STI reported in the four months between December 2014 to March 2015, with a further 200 cases reported in the US over the past two years.
The CDC say this is suggestive of an outbreak.
Most of the cases are found in HIV-infected homosexual men but a small number of cases have occurred in non-HIV-infected heterosexual men and women.
As the infection can result in going blind, this has prompted the CDC to issue a warning to doctors to look out for the signs with patients.
The symptoms you need to look out for with a syphilis infection include:
1. Blurred vision and vision loss
2. Sore throat
3. Skin rash
Gary N. Holland, MD, at UCLA Stein Eye Institute wrote in a clinical update for the American Academy of Ophthalmology that the eye can be impacted by syphilis at any stage of the disease.
He added: “Because typical manifestations like posterior uveitis or panuveitis can also be caused by a range of other diseases, an ophthalmic examination alone cannot confirm whether a patient has syphilis.
“That’s why it’s crucial that ophthalmologists remember to order appropriate syphilis screening tests and collaborate with infectious disease specialists in interpreting test results whenever syphilis is a possibility.”
Ocular syphilis can occur without any of the regular symptoms of syphilis showing, so it’s best to make an appointment with your GP if something doesn’t feel right or to get a STI test done if you have had unprotected sex.
Prompt diagnosis is the best way to make sure ocular syphilis doesn’t cost you your vision.
Syphilis spreads through direct contact with a syphilis sore which is typically found on the vagina, anus, penis, rectum or mouth.