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Chlamydial conjunctivitis

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Chlamydial conjunctivitis is defined by swelling and redness of the conjunctiva which is the transparent membrane lining the interior of the eyelids and covers the white part of the eye. This form of conjunctivitis is caused by the chlamydia bacteria.

It is important to note that chlamydia can spread via:

  • Touching the eyes without washing the hands thoroughly
  • Sharing of items such as towels, washcloths, eyelashes or cosmetics
  • Sexual contact with an infected individual

Additionally, a mother with chlamydia can pass the infection to the baby during birth.

What are the signs?

Chlamydial conjunctivitis
Eye issues brought about by chlamydia in adults typically develop in a slow manner.

Eye issues brought about by chlamydia in adults typically develop in a slow manner. The usual signs include:

  • Reddened, itchy, inflamed or scratchy eyes
  • Watery drainage or pus
  • Light sensitivity

In most cases, there are no changes in vision and pain. Among newborns, the symptoms might include eyelid swelling, eye redness and watery discharge that start once the baby is 5-7 days old.

Management of chlamydial conjunctivitis

Chlamydial conjunctivitis is generally managed with both oral antibiotics and eyedrops or ointment to eliminate the bacteria in the body. In most cases, the individual gets better after using antibiotics for 3-4 weeks.

Among newborns, an antibiotic ointment and intravenous antibiotics are given. Prompt treatment can prevent serious issues. Remember that chlamydia can lead to blindness or significant lung infections among newborns.


  • Regularly wash hands and avoid touching or rubbing the eyes unless the hands are clean.
  • Avoid sharing eye makeup or cosmetics with others.
  • Do not share washcloths, towels, sheets or pillows with others. In case one eye is affected by chlamydial conjunctivitis, use a separate towel for every eye.

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