According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chlamydia is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States and is most common for those aged 24 and under [1]. And, whilst this common STD is most often associated with genital infections, it can also affect other areas of the body including the throat, rectum, and even the eye.

Sometimes referred to as chlamydial conjunctivitis, chlamydia in the eye occurs when the chlamydia bacteria get into the eye area. Symptoms of chlamydial conjunctivitis can sometimes mimic the signs of other bacterial infections, but causes and treatment differ.

See also: What is Chlamydia? Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment



What causes chlamydial conjunctivitis?


Similar to an infection in the genital area, chlamydial conjunctivitis is usually caused when the eyes come into contact with the semen or vaginal fluids of someone with a chlamydia infection [2].

Often people with chlamydial conjunctivitis will also have an associated genital infection, of which they may not be aware. If left untreated, chlamydia infection may pass from the vaginal canal to a baby during childbirth, sometimes causing lung or eye infections in newborns.[2]

See also: Does Chlamydia Cause Long Term Damage?


What causes chlamydial eye infections in babies?


Newborns can contract a chlamydial eye infection. This occurs when women with untreated chlamydia pass the infection on to the baby during childbirth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of newborns with chlamydial conjunctivitis also contract the chlamydial infection in other parts of their body.


What are the symptoms of chlamydial conjunctivitis?


Although chlamydia often shows little to no symptoms, there are some common symptoms of chlamydial eye infection that you should keep in mind, these include [3]:

  • Eye redness
  • Irritation
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Mucous discharge
  • Itchiness

See also: Symptoms of Chlamydia in Men


How do you treat a chlamydia eye infection?


To begin, your healthcare provider will likely enquire about any symptoms you’ve been experiencing, they will also examine your eyes and may take a swab sample from the eye area to check for bacteria.

Once diagnosed, chlamydial conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotic pills and/or specific eye drops to help fight against the chlamydia infection. It’s important to remember to follow and complete the full course of antibiotics that your doctor has prescribed.


One of the best ways to reduce your risk of contracting an STD is with regular screening. This can be done by taking a trip to your doctors office or from the comfort of your own home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked offers a range of at-home STI tests which check for some of the most common bacterial and viral infections with online results in just 5 days. If you have any questions about your results, our dedicated nurses are available.

You should consider taking a test if:

  • You become sexually active
  • You have had unprotected sex
  • You’re experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
  • You’re entering into a new sexual relationship
  • You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STIs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.)

It’s important to note that while our tests can detect the presence of regular chlamydia through a urine sample, we do not currently offer to test for chlamydial conjunctivitis.



References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chlamydia - STD Fact Sheet. Online: Cdc.gov, 2014
  2. NHS. Chlamydia. Online: NHS. UK, 2018
  3. NHS. Chlamydia Complications. Online: NHS.uk, 2018