Klin Monbl Augenheilkd 2019 Apr 18;236(4):516-522. Epub 2019 Apr 18.
Augenklinik, UniversitätsSpital Zürich, Universität Zürich, Schweiz.
Purpose: The spectrum of intraocular and systemic findings in patients with ocular syphilis is described. Persistent visual dysfunction and structural abnormality, in spite of targeted antibiotic therapy, were identified and analysed.
Methods: Patients with ocular syphilis who were treated at University Hospital Zurich (USZ) between 2010 and 2018 were included in this study. General characteristics, ocular manifestation and visual function (best-corrected visual acuity [BCVA], visual field) before and after treatment were analysed retrospectively.
Results: Ocular syphilis was diagnosed in one female and 16 male patients (median age 42 years, range 22 to 53 years). A bilateral infection was present in 11 cases, and 28 of 34 eyes were affected (82%). Manifestations included anterior (n = 3), intermediate (n = 4), posterior (n = 10) uveitis, as well as panuveitis (n = 5) and papillitis (n = 6). Abnormal liquor findings were present in 8 patients (47%). Six patients were human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive. In all patients, intravenous benzyl penicillin was initiated and led to inactivation of intraocular inflammation. Before the initial intravenous treatment, all patients received one dose of steroids orally (Prednisone [PDN] 50 to 70 mg). Seven patients had systemic steroids added over the course of the antibiotic treatment being gradually decreased during and after the antibiotic treatment. The initial median BCVA of all affected eyes (n = 28) of 17 patients was 0.1 logMAR (0.8 decimal), range 2.8 to - 0.1 logMAR (light perception to 1.25 decimal). At the last visit, the median BCVA was 0 logMAR, range 0.4 to - 0.1 logMAR (0.4 to 1.25 decimal). Median follow-up time was 11 months (range 3 to 60 months). At the last visit, BCVA of 4 eyes (3 patients) was ≤ 0.6. Six eyes of 5 patients had a persisting scotoma with central visual field defects. Morphologically, disintegration and irregularities of outer retinal layers after central retinitis (5 eyes) and atrophy of the peripapillary retinal nerve fibre layer (4 eyes) after papillitis correlated with abnormal vision.
Conclusions: The spectrum of ocular manifestations in syphilis is broad. Despite targeted antibiotic therapy, more than a third of affected eyes had lasting abnormal vision. Patients with papillitis and retinitis were at an increased risk for persistent visual dysfunction.