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Analysis of significant factors influencing visual acuity in ocular syphilis
  1. Konstantinos Balaskas1,
  2. Theodoros N Sergentanis2,
  3. Stefano Giulieri3,
  4. Yan Guex-Crosier1
  1. 1Jules-Gonin Eye Hospital, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Medical School of the University of Athens, Athens, Greece
  3. 3Department of Infectious Diseases, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yan Guex-Crosier, Jules-Gonin Eye Hospital, Av. de France 15, CH-1004 Lausanne, Switzerland; yan.guex{at}


Background The aim of this study is to determine whether statistical associations can be demonstrated in ocular syphilis between baseline clinical and laboratory parameters with visual acuity at presentation and with any change in visual acuity after treatment.

Methods Charts of 26 patients (42 eyes) with ocular syphilis presenting to the Uveitis clinic of the Jules-Gonin Eye Hospital were reviewed. A baseline cross-sectional analysis was performed in order to identify any association between visual acuity at presentation and demographic, clinical or laboratory parameters. After treatment, any analogy between these parameters and a change in visual acuity was subsequently assessed in a series of univariate comparisons.

Results The following factors were associated with worse initial visual acuity: severity of visual field impairment at presentation (p=0.012), macular oedema (p=0.004) and optic neuropathy (p=0.031). There was a borderline association with the presence of vasculitis on fluroangiography (p=0.072). Improvement in best corrected visual acuity after treatment was significantly associated with the presence of vasculitis on fluroangiography (p=0.005), neurosyphilis, according to lumbar puncture findings (p=0.037) and marginally with anterior uveitis (p=0.070). Inflammation relapse was associated with the coexistence of pain as presenting sign (p<0.001) and with a longer duration of symptoms prior to the initial visit (p=0.023).

Conclusions Severe ocular inflammation associated with vasculitis, vitritis or anterior uveitis in ocular syphilis would appear to be a reversible phenomenon that responds well to appropriate antibiotic treatment, resulting in improvement in visual acuity. Prompt treatment enables a good visual prognosis, while any delay in therapy increases the risk of subsequent relapse.

  • Ocular syphilis
  • choroid
  • retina
  • antibiotic treatment
  • microbiology
  • immunology
  • infection

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Ethics Committee of the University of Lausanne.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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