Conjunctivitis is redness and swelling of the clear membrane that lines the inside of your eyelids and covers the white of your eye. This membrane is called the conjunctiva. Chlamydia is a type of bacteria that can cause infections.
What is the cause?
Chlamydia can be spread when you get bacteria in your eyes from:
Touching your eyes without washing your hands
Sharing washcloths, towels, cosmetics, or false eyelashes
Having sexual contact with someone who is infected
Also, a mother who has chlamydia can pass this disease to her baby during birth.
What are the symptoms?
Eye problems caused by chlamydia in adults usually develop slowly. Symptoms may include:
Red, itchy, swollen or scratchy eyes
Sensitivity to light
Pus or watery discharge
Usually there is no change in vision and no pain.
In a newborn, the symptoms may be eye redness, eyelid swelling, and watery discharge that start when the baby is 5 to 7 days old.
How is it diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and activities and examine your eyes. A swab of your conjunctiva may be sent to a lab to check for bacteria.
You may need to have tests for other sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, or HIV/AIDS.
How is it treated?
Chlamydial conjunctivitis is treated with both antibiotic pills and eyedrops or ointment to kill the chlamydia in your body. Your sexual partner must also be treated. Usually you will get better after taking the antibiotics for 3 to 4 weeks.
Treatment for a newborn is antibiotic ointment and IV antibiotics. Early treatment can prevent serious problems. Chlamydia can cause blindness or severe lung infections in newborns.
How can I take care of myself?
Follow the full course of treatment your healthcare provider prescribes. Ask your healthcare provider:
How and when you will hear your test results
How long it will take to recover
What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
How to take care of yourself at home
What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.
How can I help prevent chlamydial conjunctivitis?
Wash your hands often. Do not touch or rub your eyes unless your hands are clean.
Never share eye makeup or cosmetics with anyone. When you have conjunctivitis, throw out all eye makeup you have been using.
Do not share towels, washcloths, pillows, or sheets with anyone. If one of your eyes is affected but not the other, use a separate towel for each eye.
Use latex or polyurethane condoms during foreplay and every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Have just 1 sexual partner who is not sexually active with anyone else.
If you are pregnant and have a chlamydial infection, get treatment for it before your baby is born.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2013-12-05 Last reviewed: 2014-10-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.