Ocular syphilis

Ophthalmology. 1990 Oct;97(10):1281-7. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(90)32419-3.


The ability of syphilis to mimic different ocular disorders can lead to misdiagnosis and delay in appropriate antimicrobial therapy. The authors describe their experience over the past 5 years with the ocular manifestations of syphilis in 25 patients who comprised 2.45% of 1020 new patients. Uveitis was the most common ocular manifestation seen. All patients had positive results from FTA-ABS tests, whereas only 68% had reactive serum VDRLs. Two of five patients tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody were reactive. The authors recommend routine FTA-ABS and VDRL screening in patients with uveitis or unexplained ocular inflammation. They also recommend testing for HIV antibody in luetics and aggressive treatment with high-dose aqueous penicillin for syphilis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Eye Diseases / complications
  • Eye Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Fundus Oculi
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • Humans
  • Keratitis / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Penicillins / therapeutic use
  • Scleritis / etiology
  • Syphilis / complications
  • Syphilis / diagnosis*
  • Syphilis / drug therapy
  • Syphilis Serodiagnosis
  • Uveitis / etiology
  • Visual Acuity


  • Penicillins