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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Ocular toxoplasmosis

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Your Question

I recently had cataract surgery and subsequently lost vision in my left eye, the eye on which they operated.  One week later a retinal specialist detected something else in that eye, and a blood test confirmed it was toxoplasmosis.  Could any of this be related to the surgery?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is ocular toxoplasmosis?

Ocular toxoplasmosis is an infection in the eye caused by the parasite, Toxoplasm a gondii.  Toxoplasmosis is the most common cause of eye inflammation in the world.  Toxoplamosis can be acquired or present at birth (congenital), having crossed the placenta from a newly infected mother to her fetus.  Most humans acquire toxoplasmosis by eating raw or undercooked meat, vegetables or milk products, or by coming into contact with infected cat litterbox or sandboxes. In humans, the infection usually causes no symptoms, and resolves without treatment in a few months.  In individuals with compromised immune systems, Toxoplasm a gondii can reactivate to cause disease.[3933]  

Reactivation of a congenital infection was traditionally thought to be the most common cause of ocular toxoplasmosis, but an acquired infection is now considered to be more common.[1]  A toxoplasmosis infection that affects the eye usually attacks the retina and initially resolves without symptoms.  However, the inactive parasite may later reactivate causing the ocular presentation of eye pain, blurred vision, and possibly permanent damage, including blindness.  Although most cases of toxoplasmosis resolve on their own, for some, inflammation can be treated with antibiotics and steroids.[2]
Last updated: 8/2/2011

Can cataract surgery aggravate ocular toxoplasmosis?

Researchers have found an increased risk of reactivation of ocular toxoplasmosis after cataract surgery. Based on this increased risk, it has been suggested that preventative (prophylactic) treatment with anti-parasitic drugs during and after the cataract surgery might be appropriate for patients at risk of losing vision. [3][4]
Last updated: 8/2/2011