What is Chemosis?
Chemosis is the swelling of the conjunctiva, which is the clear membrane over the eyelids and the surface of the eye. Chemosis can look similar to a blister on the eye. If severe, it can be difficult to close the eye. Chemosis is an inflammatory reaction mediated by the release of histamine, serotonin, and bradykinin. It is a nonspecific finding and is secondary to direct endothelial cell insult. It is a sign of an allergic reaction, bacterial or viral infection, angioedema, or trauma.
- Chemosis is a swelling of the clear membrane called the conjunctiva.
- Chemosis is a non-specific inflammatory reaction typically caused by allergic, bacterial or viral conjunctivitis.
- Chemosis is self-limiting and resolves with treatment of the underlying condition.
Conjunctival chemosis is excess fluid in the conjunctiva. It is typically self-limiting or reversible if the underlying condition is treated. Chemosis is a sign of other ocular conditions.
Risk Factors for Chemosis
The risk factors for chemosis include allergic, viral or bacterial conjunctivitis.
Both topical and oral antihistamines can reduce your body’s response to allergens and reduce the chemosis. Antihistamines can help suppress the immune response and also reduce irritation and swelling.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotic ointments or eye drops. Chemosis will resolve after the bacterial conjunctivitis is treated. Bacterial conjunctivitis is most common in children.
There is no treatment for viral conjunctivitis, but it resolves without treatment in 10-14 days. Cold compresses and artificial tear drops improve the look and feel of the eye more quickly.
Symptoms vary according to the cause of the chemosis, but may include:
- Watery eyes
Chemosis can be seen during a slit lamp exam by an eye doctor.
Treatment depends on the cause of the chemosis, but the key to treating chemosis is to reduce inflammation. Managing the swelling with cool compresses can reduce the discomfort and improve the appearance of the eye.