Ocular syphilis resurgence in an urban underserved community in the United States

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    AIM: To evaluate the clinical characteristics, demographics, and visual outcomes of patients with ocular syphilis at an urban hospital to increase awareness and assist in earlier diagnosis and treatment of the resurgent disease. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed on patients with ICD-9 and ICD-10 diagnosis codes correlating with syphilis or syphilis-related ocular diseases between 2010 and 2019. Variables evaluated included age, gender, race, vision, ocular findings, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status and men who have sex with men status, recreational drug and alcohol use. RESULTS: Ocular syphilis was diagnosed in 40 patients (53 eyes) of a total of 229 patients who tested positive for syphilis via serum and/or cerebrospinal fluid treponemal testing from 2010-2019. Among patients with ocular syphilis, most patients were males, aged 45 or above and Black, and had no diagnosed HIV infection. Approximately 50% patients had 20/40 vision or better. Nearly 50% had non-granulomatous anterior uveitis as their initial presentation, and 49% of patients had involvement of the posterior segment. Neovascular glaucoma (5.7%), papillitis (7.5%), vasculitis (5.7%), and retinal detachment (5.7%) were rarer presentations of the disease and were associated with a poorer visual prognosis. CONCLUSION: Given the increased prevalence and protean manifestations of syphilis, early diagnosis and treatment are paramount. More studies on ocular syphilis are warranted to understand this resurging disease.

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Emily K. Tam, Alexander Port, Diana Martin, Gabrielle Fridman, Steven Ness, Nicole H. Siegel. Ocular syphilis resurgence in an urban underserved community in the United States. Int J Ophthalmol 2022;15(8):1357-1362

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  • Received:May 08,2021
  • Revised:May 27,2022
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  • Online: July 28,2022
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