Home Symptoms Chemosis: Causes, Signs, Treatment, Risks

Chemosis: Causes, Signs, Treatment, Risks

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 312 views

Chemosis is what doctors call swelling of the conjunctiva of the eye. The conjunctiva lifts away from the eyeball like a bubble. Chemosis usually occurs when the conjunctiva is inflamed. It is often caused by an allergy, such as hay fever. Once the cause is treated, the swelling usually goes down. Read more about the causes and treatment of chemosis here.

What is chemosis?

Chemosis describes the swelling of the conjunctiva of the eye . The conjunctiva (conjunctiva) is normally a wafer-thin mucous membrane that covers the inside of the eyelids and the whites of the eyes. It prevents foreign bodies and pathogens from entering the eye and ensures that the tear film is distributed over the eye. If fluid accumulates in the conjunctival tissue (edema), chemosis develops. Other terms for this are conjunctival edema, chemosis, and conjunctival edema.

Chemosis often arises on the basis of another disease, such as hay fever. It is therefore a special symptom of the eye, which can also occur above all with eye diseases.

Chemosis: Appearance

In chemosis, the conjunctiva separates from the eyeball like a blister . A whitish-glassy or crimson, bulging swelling develops . The conjunctiva can also swell and protrude noticeably under the eyelid. The edema can be so severe that the eyelids can no longer be closed. Sometimes it even covers part of the cornea and iris.

Chemosis can be accompanied by other symptoms or cause new symptoms. These include itching, pain or blurred vision . In addition, the eye may water or discharge fluid. However, these symptoms can also be absent. This is why chemosis sometimes goes unnoticed by the patient.

Chemosis: Similar manifestations of the conjunctiva

Not every conjunctival swelling is a chemosis. Certain viruses or bacteria also cause so-called follicles . The conjunctiva bulges like nodules or granules because cells of the immune system accumulate underneath. The crest of the protrusions is glassy.

Papillae (“paving stones”) are angular, flattened protrusions of the conjunctiva. In the center you can see a fine vessel tree. They usually occur in allergy sufferers or contact lens wearers.

Chemosis: causes and possible diseases

Chemosis can result when the conjunctiva or nearby structures become inflamed or severely irritated . Local reactions make it easier for fluid to leak from the blood vessels into the tissue. This then swells and the conjunctival edema becomes visible.

The reasons for this can be very different. An allergy (e.g. to pollen, animal hair, cosmetics) is usually responsible for the conjunctiva becoming inflamed and swelling (allergic conjunctivitis).

Bacterial or viral infections can also be triggers. More rarely, a tumor in the orbit causes chemosis. The tumor presses on vessels in the conjunctiva, causing fluid to accumulate and be “pressed” into the conjunctiva. Burns, chemical burns, injuries and UV light can also irritate the conjunctiva to such an extent that chemosis develops. Some contact lens wearers are also sensitive to the lens care product, which causes the conjunctiva to swell.

Never mix different contact lens care products . They could react chemically and cause allergic conjunctival swelling.

Chemosis: When Should You See a Doctor?

Go to the eye doctor if your conjunctiva is swollen. This is especially true if other symptoms appear. The doctor can find out the cause of the symptoms and, if necessary, initiate the necessary therapy.

Chemosis: what does the doctor do?

The doctor first asks about your symptoms, your general state of health and any underlying diseases. During this collection of the medical history (anamnesis), the doctor asks, for example:

  • How long has the swelling been there?
  • Do you have any other complaints?
  • Have you recently gotten something in your eye or injured your eye?

The ophthalmologist then examines the affected eye. With the help of the so-called slit lamp , he directs a slit-shaped beam of light onto your eye. This allows him to examine the conjunctiva and other areas of the eye more closely. If the conjunctiva is inflamed, he may take a smear test. With its help, any pathogens can be detected in the laboratory.

To find out the exact cause of your symptoms, the doctor may do other tests , such as an allergy test or blood tests.

How does the doctor treat chemosis?

The aim of the therapy is to reduce the swelling of the conjunctiva. For this, the doctor treats the respective trigger of the chemosis. For example, if an allergy is responsible for the swelling, the doctor will prescribe antiallergic eye drops . Antiallergic medication in the form of tablets can also help. Patients should also try to avoid the allergy trigger in the future.

If the chemosis is caused by an infection, the doctor will prescribe a remedy against the pathogen , for example antibiotics for bacteria. The doctor will also initiate appropriate therapy for other causes such as tumors, injuries or chemical burns.

The swelling of the conjunctiva usually goes away once the cause has been treated.

Chemosis: You can do that yourself

Chemosis can be the symptom of a serious medical condition. Therefore, always have the conjunctival swelling checked out by a doctor . If your doctor diagnoses conjunctivitis, you can use home remedies to help it heal. You can read more about proven home remedies and how to use them in our article “ Conjunctivitis – Home Remedies ”.

If an allergy is responsible for the chemosis, then try to avoid the allergy trigger (pollen, animal hair, etc.) as much as possible.

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