Argyll Robertson Pupils


Other Known Aliases – Prostitute’s Pupil

Definition – Small, bilateral pupils with an absence of miotic reaction to light, both direct and consensual, with preservation of miotic reaction to near stimulus.  In other words, they accommodate, but do not react light (light-near dissociation).

Clinical Significance Classically associated with tabes dorsalis of neurosyphylis, but can also be seen in diabetic neuropathy.  Rare now due to the widespread of antibiotics and treating early syphilis infections

History – Named after Douglas Moray Cooper Lamb Argyll Robertson (1837-1909), who was a Scottish surgeon and ophthalmologist and one of the first to specialize in the eye.  He published his findings of several case reports in two articles in the “Edinburgh Medical Journal” in 1869.  Previous to this however, he was also the first to discover and use the extract of the Calabar bean (otherwise known as physostigmine) for treatment of various eye disorders.

“Dougie”, as his friends called him****


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com/
  5. Robertson DA. On an interesting series of eye symptoms in a case of spinal disease, with remarks on the action of belladonna on the iris. Edinb Med J. 1869;14:696–708.
  6. Robertson DA. Four cases of spinal myosis with remarks on the action of light on the pupil. Edinb Med J. 1869;15:487–493
  7. Robertson, D. A.:  On the Calabar Bean as a New Agent in Ophthalmic Medicine.  Edinb Med J. 1863;93:815-820.

****I have no source for this but he looks like a Dougie….plus with a name like Douglas Moray Cooper Lamb Argyll Robertson, you have to have a nickname, right?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s