Ocular toxoplasmosis is an infection of the retina that can either be acquired or congenital, where the infection is passed from mother to child. The disease comes from the protozoan (unicellular) parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. While in the eye, the parasite can cause inflammation and scarring, which can lead to temporary or permanent impaired vision. For example, patients might experience blurry vision or the presence of floaters. Many times a patient with toxoplasmosis displays no signs of the infection and it can commonly clear up on its own. Ocular toxoplasmosis is the primary cause of eye inflammation in patients around the world. Board-certified eye surgeons, Drs. Sullivan and Agee, offer Jacksonville, FL patients the latest treatment options available today. Southeastern Retina Specialists can treat Ocular Toxoplasmosis and offer optimal outcomes for our patients.
Causes and Symptoms
Acquired toxoplasmosis occurs when a person is exposed to certain animals, especially cats, since the parasite can live within the intestinal tracks of many animals. The parasite can be present in cat feces and can become ingested by a person handling a litter box, for example. It’s important to practice proper hygiene, including washing hands, after dealing with animals. A patient can also become infected by consuming raw or undercooked meat.
With congenital ocular toxoplasmosis, the disease is passed from the mother to her child across the placenta. A woman can carry and transmit the infection to her fetus either right before she gets pregnant or during the pregnancy.
Many patients, around 80%, are asymptomatic, meaning they exhibit no symptoms of having the parasitic infection. There’s usually an incubation period of 1 – 2 weeks and then symptoms become more apparent. These include:
Presence of floaters
General discomfort or feelings of illness
Muscle and/or joint pain
In order to diagnose a patient with ocular toxoplasmosis, an ophthalmologist will perform a comprehensive eye exam and will take special care to examine the retina for check for any inflammation or any other abnormalities. In atypical cases, blood tests are often conducted to check for the presence of the infection.
Treatment and Prognosis
If a patient only has a mild case of toxoplasmosis, treatment usually isn’t necessary since the infection will usually subside on its own. For moderate to severe cases, treatment usually involves antibiotics to fight the infection and reduce inflammation. The medication works to make toxoplasmosis inactive to resolve current inflammation and symptoms and prevent any future issues. Systemic (corticosteroid) steroids and steroid eye drops can also be used to reduce inflammation.
Most patients have a favorable prognosis where vision can be restored and symptoms can go away. However, if scarring occurs on the retina, vision can be substantially impaired either temporarily or permanently.
Treat Ocular Toxoplasmosis
Our practice has the ability to treat ocular toxoplasmosis to clear up any present symptoms, as well as to provide you with a better prognosis. We are available to answer your questions and address any concerns that you may have. Give us a call today to schedule your appointment.
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