Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that is caused by toxoplasma gondii, one of the most common parasites in humans. Between 30% and 50% of the global population is estimated to have been exposed to the parasite. The disease can affect your eyes, and when it does, ocular toxoplasmosis is the result. Here are five things you need to know about this condition.
What are the signs of ocular toxoplasmosis?
Ocular toxoplasmosis may be asymptomatic or it may cause mild symptoms. You may notice small changes in your vision like the appearance of new floaters or blurred vision. These changes may seem insignificant, but they are a warning sign that serious changes are taking place inside your eyes.
Ocular toxoplasmosis causes necrosis of the retina, a light-sensing tissue inside your eye that is essential for sight. Your optometrist will be able to diagnose the condition by looking at your retinas.
How do you get ocular toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasma gondii is a very common parasite and there are many ways that you can acquire it. You can get it by eating pork that is raw or undercooked or from fruits or vegetables that are raw and unwashed. You can also get the parasite from your cat, either from cleaning their litter box or from eating something that their feces has contaminated. The parasite is also present in the soil, so if you're a gardener, you could be exposed. The parasite is also suspected to be sexually transmitted, but this hasn't been proven yet.
Can it damage your vision?
Ocular toxoplasmosis can cause serious vision problems because of the damage it does to the retina. It can also damage other nearby structures inside the eye, like the optic nerve and the macula. This damage can lead to hemorrhages inside the eye, a loss of visual acuity, and even blindness.
Can it be treated?
Fortunately, treatments are available for this condition. The main treatment is a combination of pyrimethamine, a drug used to kill the toxoplasmosa gondii parasite, and corticosteroids, a medication that decreases inflammation and also helps to reduce the damage done to your eyes. Other treatments are available if this treatment doesn't work. For example, you can get medications injected into your eye to kill the parasite. Another possible treatment is vitrectomy, the surgical removal of the gel from the inside of your eye.
How common is it?
This condition is very common in America. Studies have estimated that about 21,505 people develop it every year in the United States, and 4,839 of those people show symptoms.
If you are concerned about ocular toxoplasmosis, see an optometrist, like Bethany Vision Clinic, right away to have your eyes evaluated.