Chlamydia in Eyes
Can You Get Chlamydia in Your Eye?
There are many types of STDs, but there is only one STD which affects the eyes. Chlamydia causes a condition called Chlamydiosis, which is characterized by inflammation of the cornea (the clear covering over the front part of your eyeball) and/or conjunctiva (a thin membrane lining inside your eyelids). This condition results in a reddened or bruised appearance of the eye, along with pain and discomfort.
The infection is spread through contact with infected sores (called “primary” infections), contaminated objects such as towels, clothing, etc., sexual activity (including unprotected vaginal and penile-vaginal) and from mother to child during pregnancy.
There is no cure for chlamydia. Treatment consists of antibiotic ointment applied directly onto the affected area twice daily until cured.
Symptoms of Chlamydia in Eyes:
Redness and swelling of the eye due to inflammation (primary infection)
Painful burning sensation when blinking (secondary infection)
Treatment for Chlamydia in Eyes:
Antibiotic eye drops or ointment twice daily for 1-2 weeks
Treating the pain (if any) with over-the-counter pain-relief medication
Seek immediate medical attention if:
Visual disturbance occurs (blurry vision, loss of vision)
Uncontrolled pain when moving eyes
Watery discharge develops (may have color of infection, e.g.
Loss of eyelashes or eyebrows
How Do You Get Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a common STD caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, which can infect the genitals, rectum and eyes (conjunctiva). It is spread through unprotected vaginal, rectal and penile-vaginal sexual activity. It can also be spread from mother to baby during childbirth.
How Can You Prevent Getting Chlamydia?
The only certain way to prevent chlamydia is to not have vaginal, rectal or penile-vaginal sexual activity. If you are pregnant and have been exposed to chlamydia, getting tested before delivering your baby is critical. Testing after delivery may not show a positive result since the test can be negative in some new mothers as long as four weeks after exposure.
What Are the Symptoms of Chlamydia?
In both men and women, chlamydia may be asymptomatic (without symptoms) in 50% of infections. When present, symptoms in men are burning sensation during urination and penile or testicular pain. In women, symptoms are more varied and may include abnormal vaginal discharge, lower abdominal pain, painful urination and bleeding between menstrual cycles. Rectal Chlamydia may cause no observable symptoms or may cause discharge, bleeding or itching.
How Do You Know if You Have Chlamydia?
If you suspect you have been exposed to the Chlamydia infection you may request a special urine test from your doctor. A urine specimen can detect the antibodies your body makes to fight the infection. A blood test can also be done. If left untreated, chlamydia may lead to sterility in men and women. Chlamydia in the eyes may cause serious damage if not treated promptly. Diagnosis in men often involves a urine test and swabbing the urethra (the tube where urine comes out). For women, a pelvic exam is performed to identify any lesions or discharge.
Can Chlamydia Be Treated?
Chlamydia can be effectively treated with medications taken by mouth, pill form or both. Your doctor will decide which medication and how to administer it based on your infection and other factors. In most cases, a follow-up test is necessary to ensure the infection has cleared up.
How Do You Prevent Chlamydia?
You can protect yourself from getting chlamydia through the use of a latex or polyurethane condoms which prevent contact with bodily fluids and discharge. Also, if you are diagnosed with chlamydia and your partner has been exposed, he or she should be tested and treated as well.
Sources & references used in this article:
Focus: chlamydia by R Belland, DM Ojcius, GI Byrne – Nature Reviews Microbiology, 2004 – nature.com
Exposure to Chlamydia pneumoniae infection and age-related macular degeneration: the Blue Mountains Eye Study by L Robman, OS Mahdi, JJ Wang… – … & visual science, 2007 – arvojournals.org
Polymerase chain reaction for detection of Chlamydia trachomatis in conjunctival swabs by EM Elnifro, CC Storey, DJ Morris… – British journal of …, 1997 – bjo.bmj.com
Prevalence and risk factors of chlamydia and gonorrhea among rural Nepali women by P Christian, SK Khatry, SC LeClerq, AA Roess… – Sexually transmitted …, 2005 – sti.bmj.com