Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a chronic, recurring, benign skin inflammation that mainly affects the skin area with more oil glands.
We often hear of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) causing symptoms in the genital region, mouth, and throat areas. But do you know STDs can infect the eyes as well?
This article strives to increase awareness of eye diseases that can be related to STDs and encourage one to cast a broader net of medical differentials in the event of unresolved eye symptoms, considering early screening and prompt treatment for any underlying sexual infections.
STDs tend to affect the areas of the body that are relatively thin. This includes mucosal surfaces such as the genital regions (urethral, vaginal, anal), the oral (lip, mouth, throat) region, and the eyes. As the mucosal areas are very thin and delicate, physical sexual intercourse predisposes one to a disrupted skin barrier, surface abrasion and cuts, which all, in turn, increase the transmissibility of bacteria and viruses – such as STDs.
STDs in the eyes are less common compared to symptoms in the genital region or the throat. Less commonly, in some developing countries, STDs of the eyes can be seen in babies or newborns from untreated infective pregnant mothers. The eyes are indispensable organs. Untreated STDs in the eyes can lead to eye inflammation or, in severe cases, even blindness.
Eye diseases secondary to STDs are usually due to direct transfer of the STDs infection through eye contact with the genital fluid (vaginal fluid/semen fluid) or through touching/rubbing of the eyes after touching the infected private areas.
Certain STDs, such as HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis virus, can be acquired through unprotected infected sexual contact, body fluid, needle or syringe sharing or blood transfusion, leading to predisposition of eye symptoms.
|STDs associated with eye symptoms
|Eye structure affected
|Conjunctiva (Outer layer of the eyes)Cornea (ulceration)
|Eye discomfortRed eyesSticky eye dischargeRecurring tearing/watery eyesVision blurrinessEye painPermanent blindness
|Retina (can be due to HIV or HIV-related viruses such as cytomegalovirus, zoster virus, etc.)Conjunctiva (Kaposi Sarcoma)
|Blurry visionsRed eyesFloatersReduced vision acuitiesBlindness
|Any part of the eyeCommonly affects the uvea
|Reduced vision acuityBlack spots in the visual fieldCan turn blind
|Herpes Simplex Virus
|Reduced visionEye PainBlindness
|Sclera (due to jaundice from chronic liver inflammation)Optic (eye) nerveRetina blood vessels
|Pubic Lice (Pthirus pubis)
|Intense itchVisible ‘crab’ crawling on the hair lashes
|HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)
|Wart (Papilloma) in the eyeEye discomfortEye irritationEye dryness due to incomplete eye closure Reduced vision
Further to the above discussion, untreated infected pregnant mothers can transmit STD infections to the fetus, leading to congenital (born and permanent) blindness. Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis infections can affect infants’ eyes through vertical transmission from untreated mothers.
If you have an abnormal eye symptom that did not resolve for 1-2 days and have a history of exposure to STD, you are advised to see a doctor.
Symptoms that are worth checking with your doctor include:
Most STD-related eye conditions are treatable. STD screening is vital to nail down the culprit infection, allowing your doctor to prescribe the right medication without further delay. Delay of treatment may potentially lead to chronic inflammation and scarring of the eye structure and can be associated with deteriorated vision acuity and blindness.
Thankfully, most of the eye diseases are treatable. Most eye diseases are treatable with eradication or management of the underlying STDs infections.
Early intervention and treatment of the underlying STD disease is paramount to prevent chronic inflammation and scarring that may lead to terminal blindness.
This is possible if the eye infection is left unattended and the underlying STDs are not addressed, as the chronic inflammation of the eyes can lead to scarring of the eye structures, eventually leading to loss of vision.
Please seek medical help early and consider STD screening if you have concerns that your eye symptoms are abnormal and may be due to a possible STD infection.
Here are some practical tips to reduce your risk of acquiring STD-related eye diseases:
Genital Herpes is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) cause by herpes simplex virus (HSV). It can be passed on via contact through vaginal, anal or oral sex. The symptom usually clears up on its own.
Genital Warts are one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in Singapore and worldwide.
HPV is a sexually transmitted viral infection that is spread through skin-to-skin contact. HPV remains one of the most prevalent STIs globally:
Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or infections (STI) are serious conditions that can develop after having unprotected intercourse. At our clinic, we offer treatment for the following STDs:
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD), and alternatively known as sexually transmitted infections (STI) are spread via sexual contact, transmitted from a person to another through contact with body fluids such as blood, vaginal fluid or semen.