Argyll Robertson pupil

Argyll Robertson pupil is usually bilateral and presents as bilaterally miotic and irregular pupils, which constrict briskly with accommodation but do not react to bright light therefore displaying light-near dissociation 1

It is a highly specific sign of late neurosyphilis, however can also occur in diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, alcoholic midbrain degeneration, and stroke 2,3. When seen in these non-syphilitic aetiologies, the pupil is termed 'pseudo-Argyll Robertson pupil' 3. The exact anatomical lesion behind this phenomenon is unknown but is thought to be caused by bilateral damage of the pretectal nuclei in the midbrain.

History and etymology

Named after Douglas Argyll Robertson (1837–1909), a Scottish surgeon and ophthalmologist, who first described this condition in mid-1860s in patients with neurosyphilis.

Argyll Robertson pupils are also sometimes called "prostitute's pupils" because of their association with late neurosyphilis. Conveniently, a popular mnemonic to remember Argyll Robertson pupils is that, just like prostitutes, they "accommodate but do not react".

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Article information

rID: 55551
Section: Signs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Argyll Robertson pupils
  • Argyll Robertson's pupil
  • Prostitute's pupils
  • Pseudo-Argyll Robertson pupil
  • Pseudo-Argyll Robertson pupils
  • Pseudo-Argyll Robertson's pupil

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