While the infection mainly affects the genitals, it can occasionally cause an eye infection called conjunctivitis.
An eye infection caused by chlamydia requires treatment. So, you should know what signs to look for so you can treat the infection. Keep reading to learn more about chlamydia in the eye.
Chlamydial conjunctivitis or trachoma are medical names for an eye infection that is caused by chlamydia bacteria. Other types of conjunctivitis can be caused by other bacteria, viruses or by allergies.
The bacteria that causes chlamydia in the eye is called Chlamydia trachomatis. It is a specific variant of the virus that causes symptoms in the eye. Scientists call this Chlamydia trachomatis with serotypes D-K.
It is common in countries that have poor sanitation, as the bacteria can spread more easily. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that, in 2022,lived in high-risk areas.
Gonorrhoea and herpes are other STIs that can cause conjunctivitis symptoms. Like Chlamydia, they are very common infections and can go unnoticed.
Chlamydia is usually spread through sexual contact. Symptoms can occur in the eye when bacteria from the genitals get into the eye.
This usually occurs if someone touches their eye after coming into contact with it, usually through semen or other genital fluids.
The bacteria may also be spread through sharing items that has come into contact with the bacteria, such as:
Rarely, do people catch it from swimming pools contaminated with the bacteria.
Infants can also catch chlamydial conjunctivitis. This can occasionally happen during childbirth if the mother has untreated chlamydia.
Common symptoms of chlamydial conjunctivitis include:
Symptoms usually occur from several days to several weeks after you contract the infection. Symptoms develop between 1 and 4 weeks after birth in newborns.
These symptoms can be confused with a regular eye infection. If you have chlamydia, you may also experience other symptoms.
Women often experience symptoms such as:
Symptoms in men include:
However, chlamydia doesn’t always cause symptoms. So, it can be easy to mistake it for a regular eye infection if you have no other symptoms.
The best way to prevent contracting chlamydia in the eye is to practise safe sex.
You should use barrier contraception, such as a male or female condom, to prevent contracting chlamydia. This is especially important if you regularly change sexual partners.
To prevent getting the bacteria in your eye, you should wash your hands immediately after sex and avoid touching your face.
It’s also a good idea for you and your sexual partners to get regularly checked for STIs. This will help prevent the spreading of the bacteria and causing chlamydial conjunctivitis.
Unlike other cases of conjunctivitis, symptoms of chlamydia will not go away without treatment. It also means you’re more likely to spread the infection to other people. So, do not ignore the signs and get treatment.
It can also cause complications if left untreated. It can damage the time over the eye as the eyelashes scratch the cornea. Over time, this can result in blindness.
If you have had unprotected sex recently, you should get an STI test as soon as possible. If you test positive, a healthcare professional can prescribe you medication.
You can treat chlamydia conjunctivitis with a course of oral antibiotics.
You should keep your eyes clean. You should use boiling water that’s cooled down and wipe your eyelashes with a clean cotton wool pad.
Do not wear contact lenses or use any products on your eyes until they get better.
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