Syphilis Related Eye Infections are Rising Fast

Eye specialists have warned of a resurgence in syphilis-related eye infections as cases of the sexually-transmitted disease escalate in gay communities.

Ophthalmologists say they are treating growing numbers of men who present with painful, red eyes or hazy vision caused by syphilis infection.

Homosexual men are most commonly affected, with infectious disease experts predicting the epidemic will spread through gay communities nationwide with time.

Fewer than 10 per cent of people who catch the disease develop symptoms in their eyes, causing redness, pain, light sensitivity and loss of vision.

But in those who do, 25 per cent will have no other symptoms of the syphilis and therefore often have no idea they have the debilitating condition.

Syphilis notifications rose more than 20-fold in inner-Sydney between 1999 and 2003 - from six cases to 162.

Victorian statistics show there were only two notifications of syphilis in 1999, but annual reports had ballooned to 238 by 2006. There were almost 80 cases in the first three months of 2007, showing numbers are rising further.

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