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The sensitive eyes of women

Women are at a greater risk than men of suffering recurring cases of ocular toxoplasmosis, caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. A study of 139 women and 123 men treated at an outpatient clinic in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, indicated that the eye infection — the most common cause of blindness in Brazil — manifests differently in the two sexes: 36% of female patients had recurrences of the infection, but repeat cases only represented 28.5% among males. Among women there were also more lesions close to the central area of the retina (56.1%) than among men (39.8%). According to João Furtado of the Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine at the University of São Paulo (FMRP-USP), the results could be due to immune system differences, or simply the greater likelihood of women to seek medical care. “Better understanding the manifestations of diseases allows us to adjust how we follow up with patients based on what to expect,” he says. The protozoa infect the eyes after ingestion of contaminated food (British Journal of Ophthalmology, May).