In a world where misinformation is rampant, it’s essential to arm yourself with accurate knowledge
If your vision has been a little blurry lately, you might be thinking, “I need to get some sleep,” not “I must have an STD.” But blurry vision is a little-known yet surprisingly common symptom of certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Fortunately, that blurriness rarely progresses to blindness as long as you see a doctor for prompt treatment.
If you’re wondering what STD causes blurred vision, we’ll answer that question below. And if you’re worried you may have pubic lice, herpes, or any other STDs, you can always order a rapid STD test for your peace of mind.
How STDs Affect Your Vision
When you think of STDs, symptoms such as unsightly rashes, itchiness, and discharge probably come to mind. But a surprising number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause blurriness and other vision problems, and these infections are incredibly common.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about one million people worldwide contract an STD every day. In 2020 alone, there were 82 million gonorrhea cases and 129 million cases of chlamydia, both of which have been shown to cause eye blurriness, jaundice, and eye infections.
Chlamydia trachomatis, a bacterium that causes a condition called trachoma, is one of the leading causes of blindness. About 1.9 million people have trachoma globally, and the condition causes 1.4% of blindness worldwide.
Repeated trachoma infections can cause eye pain, scratched corneas, scarring on the insides of eyelids, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Eventually, the infection could lead to permanent blindness.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a member of the herpes virus family that can cause eye problems in people with weakened immune systems. In addition to spreading through sexual contact, CMV can pass from infected mothers to their babies during birth or breastfeeding.
STDs can infect your eyes in several ways. Sexually transmitted viruses and bacteria can get into your eyes if you rub them after touching infected genitals. It’s also possible to contract an infection by getting infected blood, semen, or saliva in your eyes. Some STDs will progress to your eyes if left untreated for too long.
Think you can avoid sexually transmitted eye problems if you wash your hands after sex? Think again. Certain STDs (such as the human papillomavirus, or HPV) can survive hand washing. Bathing also does nothing to stop the transmission of STDs. That’s because viruses and bacteria enter your body on contact, and there’s no way to wash them away once that happens.
If you suspect you have an STD, you may want to order same-day STD testing from Rapid STD Testing. If your test is positive, you can start treatment to help you prevent permanent eye problems.
STDs That Affect the Eyes
What STD causes blurred vision? Many STDs can affect your eyes over time, but the good news is that you can usually avoid any lasting problems by getting treated as soon as you notice symptoms. Here’s a list of STDs that can affect your eyes and symptoms to watch out for.
Herpes Simplex Virus
Herpes is one of quite a few permanent STDs. However, many people never present symptoms and have no idea they’re infected with the herpes virus.
The herpes virus has two variants: HSV 1, which causes cold sores and fever blisters, and HSV 2, which causes genital herpes. Both variants have been known to cause eye problems. The virus usually attacks the cornea but may also impact the retina.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the most common STDs, and both can cause conjunctivitis (pink eye). If infected, you may notice itching, swelling, and pus coming from your eyes.
Both can be transmitted through contact with mucous membranes or when people rub their eyes after touching an infected genital area.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics. If untreated, both can cause permanent vision loss and blindness.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that spreads through contact with infected blood, semen, and other bodily fluids. It’s commonly transmitted through sex, but you can contract the virus by sharing needles with an infected person as well.
Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin) is one of the first signs of a hepatitis B infection. In chronic hepatitis B infections, the virus can cause inflammation of the optic nerve and retinal vessels.
Syphilis of the eye (ocular syphilis) is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Syphilis infections commonly affect men who have sex with men (many of whom are HIV positive).
At a certain stage of syphilis (secondary syphilis and beyond), symptoms include eye pain, dryness, blurry vision, and blindness.
Antibiotic treatment can stop the infection from progressing, but it won’t undo any damage to your eyes that has already been done.
HIV and AIDS don’t cause eye problems directly, but many virus carriers will eventually develop complications due to CMV (as mentioned above). CMV doesn’t normally cause problems for healthy people, but for those with a compromised immune system, the virus can cause dark patches in vision, hazy vision, floaters, and life-threatening inflammation of the retina.
Treatment and Prevention
If you think (or know) you have an STD and worry about going blind, don’t panic! Most of the above STDs are easily treatable, making it crucial to get a proper diagnosis. Even if you have a permanent STD, it’s possible to keep symptoms from progressing with the right medication.
Below, we’ll describe the typical treatment for STDs that can cause vision problems.
There is no cure for herpes, but certain drugs can keep symptoms at bay. By taking them, your viral load could drop to undetectable levels, which is as close as you can get to not having the virus.
For the first outbreak of genital or oral herpes, doctors recommend a course of Acyclovir, Famciclovir, or Valacyclovir. Doctors may suggest antiviral therapy for subsequent outbreaks.
Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis
All three of these STDs are treatable with antibiotics. Doctors commonly prescribe doxycycline or azithromycin for chlamydia. A single dose of intramuscular ceftriaxone can treat gonorrhea, although some strains of the virus have become resistant to this antibiotic.
For syphilis, doctors recommend an injection of penicillin.
Hepatitis B has no cure. The acute variety of the infection typically gets better on its own, so doctors don’t recommend any specific treatment. If you develop chronic hepatitis B, your doctor might suggest antiviral medications or Interferon injections.
HIV is treatable with antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART can’t cure HIV, but people who receive it can live longer, healthier lives.
STD Prevention Tips
To reduce your chances of contracting an STD that can affect your vision:
- Always use condoms when you have sex unless you’re monogamous and know without a doubt that your partner is STD-free (the results from their 10-panel STD test came back negative, for instance).
- Avoid having sex with multiple partners to lower your risk of getting an STD.
- Get vaccinated for STDs that have vaccines available, such as hepatitis B and HPV.
- Don’t share needles with anyone else. Sharing needles is one of the biggest risk factors for STDs.
- Avoid using recreational drugs, which can impair your judgment and lead to making risky decisions with sexual partners.
Order Discreet STD Testing With Fast Results
Now that you know what STDs cause blurred vision, why not order STD testing for your peace of mind? It’s easy to get tested, and you’ll have the results in just a couple of days.