Chlamydia Conjunctivitis – Learn All About Chlamydia in Eye

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Chlamydia is one of the most widely reported sexually transmitted infections globally. This infection can get into the eyes and cause an inflammation called chlamydial conjunctivitis, also known as adult inclusion conjunctivitis. Chlamydial conjunctivitis occurs when bacteria cause inflammation of the eyes, leading to symptoms like itching and watery discharge from the eyes.

Sexually active people are more prone to getting chlamydia because it is primarily a sexually transmitted infection. In addition, many people get chlamydia in eye from hand-to-eye contact with the bacteria that cause the infection in the genitals. This article discusses chlamydia in eye, its causes, symptoms, treatments, and more. Read on to learn more about chlamydia in the eyes and how you can manage this infection.

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Chlamydia in Eye: What is it?

Chlamydia conjunctivitis (adult inclusion conjunctivitis) is a bacterial condition that accounts for an estimated 1.8% to 5.6% of acute conjunctivitis infections. While it affects sexually active and mostly young people, anyone can have this infection.

Chlamydia spreads primarily through hand-to-eye contact when the bacteria that cause the condition is present from touching body fluid from an infected person’s genital.

New mothers with chlamydia can also pass the infection to their babies during delivery. Healthcare experts call this chlamydial ophthalmia neonatorum, which develops in 1-4 weeks from birth. This infection typically affects one eye but can be present and affect both.

According to this study, 30-35% of babies with chlamydia-infected mothers will get neonatal conjunctivitis.

Related: Can You Get Chlamydia From Smoking With Someone?

Chlamydia in Eye: Cause and Symptoms

Chlamydia eye infections are caused by the bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis- which can be contracted through sexual contact.

Many people typically get chlamydia in the eye from touching their eyes with their hands after contact with the genital fluids of someone infected.

Other ways to get chlamydia in the eye include sharing the following:

  • Sharing towels
  • Washcloths
  • Cosmetics
  • False eyelashes

In some cases, some people may get infected while swimming in a pool.


Chlamydia is typically asymptomatic, which means symptoms might not readily present themselves even when the infection is present.

However, for chlamydial conjunctivitis, symptoms can take 2-19 days to appear. People may experience the following symptoms:

  • Itchy, swollen, red, or scratchy eyes
  • Photosensitivity
  • Watery discharge
  • Swollen lymph nodes around the eyes

In babies, symptoms can include the following:

  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Bloody or watery eye discharge
  • Itchiness or redness of eyes

Babies may also develop a condition called pseudomembrane. Infections and inflammations can cause a membrane to grow, eventually covering the white part of the eyes.

How is conjunctivitis diagnosed?

Chlamydial infection in the eyes is typically diagnosed through an eye examination. Your healthcare expert will take a sample of your conjunctiva with a swab and send it to a lab to carry out a test for the bacteria that cause conjunctivitis.

Treatment for chlamydial infection in the eyes

Chlamydia in the eyes can be pretty uncomfortable and irritable for most people. Fortunately, the infection can be easily treated through antibiotics, including eyedrops and ointments. This is why it is vital to detect the disease early enough so it can be efficiently dealt with before it gets complicated.

Leaving this condition untreated for an extended time will cause severe complications that will make it worse.

You should start getting relief within a few weeks with the recommended treatment. Most people get relief from their symptoms within 3-4 weeks of starting treatment.

In addition, it is essential to point out that you can still get recurrent chlamydia if your condition is not adequately treated.

In addition to getting treated, you must also ensure that your sexual partner gets treated also to avoid reinfection during sexual activities.

Newborn babies are typically treated with IV antibiotics and ointments.

How can I prevent chlamydia in the eye?

You can take some tested measures to protect yourself from a chlamydial infection in the eyes—one of the most vital measures to ensure regular STI testing for you and your sexual partner.

You should also wash your hands after every sexual contact before touching your face or eyes.

In addition, many states in the US require medical professionals to use eye drops or ointment on newly delivered babies within 2-3 hours of birth.

When to reach a doctor

It is essential to contact your medical expert for adequate guidance if you have an infection. Your medical expert will consider your symptoms and recommend the appropriate treatment option that best suits you.

You should reach out to your healthcare expert for the following reasons:

  • If you’re starting with a new sexual partner
  • Engage in sexual activities with multiple partners
  • Pregnant (pregnant women should take regular STI screenings)
  • If you’ve had sex without protection

Read Also: Chlamydia vs Herpes


Chlamydial eye infections occur when the bacteria that cause genital chlamydia infections contact the eyes. The infection typically spreads from an individual touching their eyes after touching infected genitalia.

Chlamydial infections in the eye can be easily treated with antibiotics, ointments, or antibiotic IVs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Fungi, viruses, or bacteria can typically cause infections in the eyes in different locations. Infections can affect just one eye or sometimes both eyes. Two of the most common infections in the eyes are conjunctivitis and style.

Conjunctivitis is also known as pink eye, while style is typically a bump on the eyelid when bacteria gets into the hair follicle of an eyelash from the skin.

An infection in the eye can be very uncomfortable. If you’re feeling any symptoms associated with this infection, you should contact your healthcare provider.

The most common symptoms include itchy or swollen eyes, sensitivity to light, watery discharge, or pus from the eyes.

No, an STD cannot cause a stye in the eye. However, some STDs like Chlamydia, herpes 2, gonorrhea, and syphilis can cause inflammation and redness in the eye. This is conjunctivitis or pink eye and can be treated with antibiotics or eye drops.

A style is essentially an eyelash follicle that’s inflamed, and the inflammation shouldn’t spread to other parts of the eye. This infection only affects the eyelids.

The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

You shouldn’t wait to see the doctor for simple health needs.