Chlamydia in the Eye (Chlamydial Conjunctivitis)

This is an eye infection caused by a microorganism called Chlamydia trachomatis, which is usually responsible for a well known chlamydia infection in the genitals. This is an unusual type of form of conjunctivitis (called chlamydial conjunctivitis), but you risk on getting it if you’re not careful.

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Symptoms

Chlamydia in the eye symptoms are the same as for other bacterial conjunctivitis. It is characterized by red eye, discharge and sometimes swollen eyelids. Conjunctiva and cornea may also be affected by this form of eye infection.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Pain and itching in the eye.
  • Blistering/burning in the eye.
  • Sticky discharge in the morning.
  • In rare cases, swollen lymph nodes around the ear.

Transmission

You can get chlamydial conjuctivitis if you rub your eye with chlamydia bacteria on your hand. This usually happens if you have chlamydia and touch your eye after being in contact with the genital area. Less often it is transmitted from partner, towels, cosmetics and eyelashes.

Testing and Diagnosis

One might try to confirm diagnosis of conjunctivitis on the basis of symptoms, but it is better to go to the doctor. It is very important that you consult your doctor if you suspect an infection with chlamydia in you eye, since this is a sight threatening infection. Be aware that if you have conjunctivitis caused by chlamydia bacteria, a special treatment needs to be prescribed. Chlamydia in the eye is usually cured with antibiotics taken orally. If untreated, the infection can develop further and cause complications.

Prevention

A chlamydia infection is easy to prevent, especially if you know you have chlamydia in advance (if not sure, you can buy a chlamydia test here):

  • Avoid touching genital area.
  • Wash your hands well after using the toilet.
  • Use condoms!

Treatment

Chlamydia in the eye is usually treated with systemic antibiotics that taken orally. This ensures that chlamydia infection is battled throughout the whole body.

  • Adults are usually treated with tetracyclines in the form of doxycycline or Azitromax.
  • Children cannot be treated with tetracyclines and are usually issued one macrolide antibiotics in the form of erythromycin.

In Children

Chlamydial conjuctivitis is relatively harmless for adults, but it may cause blindness in children. If a pregnant mother is infected with chlamydia, there is also a great risk that the newborn get the infection during childbirth. Symptoms usually appear 1-14 days after birth and include red eye, swollen eyelids and discharge. It is therefore important that you go to the doctor right away if your baby shows symptoms of an eye infection. All pregnant women need to test for chlamydia at the doctor.