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Cleaning Up Chlamydial Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is a common eye condition where the conjunctiva is swollen and infected. The conjunctiva is the membrane that lines the eyelids. This condition is also characterized by redness of the eye which led some people to call it as pink eye.

 

In rare instances, conjunctivitis may be transmitted sexually. One such instance is when you contract chlamydial or inclusion conjunctivitis.

 

Risk Factors

 

  • Teenagers and young adults who are sexually active
  • This condition is the most common contagious cause of neonatal conjunctivitis in the United States. Babies with mothers who contract this condition and leave it untreated have 30% to 40% chance of developing the same.
  • People living in urban areas are more at risk than those from other areas.
  • Women are more prone to suffer from this condition than men.
  • Around 4% to 10% of pregnant women suffer from this condition.

 

Signs and Symptoms

 

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Urethritis
  • Vaginitis
  • Eye infection for more than three weeks and does not improve even if treated with topical antibiotics
  • Mucopurulent, stingy or mucus discharge
  • Superficial punctate keratitis
  • Peripheral subepithelial infiltrates
  • Follicles
  • Preauricular node
  • Superior corneal pannus
  • Iritis.

 

Transmission

 

  • Laboratory accidents
  • Sharing of cosmetics
  • Hot tub that is not chlorinated properly
  • Hand contact from site of genital infection to the eye
  • Mother infecting her baby.

 

Detection

 

Since its symptoms may not be immediately visible, it is often difficult and expensive to detect chlamydial conjunctivitis. The preferred method is to culture conjunctival scrapings for Giemsa staining to check if the following are present:

 

  • Polymorphonuclear leukocytes
  • Lymphocytes
  • Intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies in epithelial cells.

 

Treatment

 

The following medications may be prescribed by doctors to treat this condition:

 

  • 250mg to 500mg of oral tetracycline taken four times a day for three weeks. It should be administered at least an hour before or after taking your meals, otherwise, you might suffer from its side effects which include gastrointestinal infections. Dairy products may also affect the efficacy of this medication.
  • 100mg doxycycline taken twice a day for one week.
  • 250mg to 500mg amoxacillin and erythromycin taken four times a day for three weeks.
  • 1 gram dose of azithromycin by mouth taken one time.
  • Topical therapies including tetracycline, sulfacetamide and erythromycin applied three times a day for three weeks.

 

Final Reminders

 

If you believe that you may be suffering from chlamydial conjunctivitis or you have been diagnosed to actually have such condition, you should bear in mind the following tips:

 

  • If you have been suffering from chronic follicular conjunctivitis or redness of eyes that does not respond to topical treatments or therapies, you should see your optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately so he/she can assess your condition to determine if you are suffering from this condition.
  • If you have been diagnosed with this eye condition, you should see your doctor every week so he can monitor how you are responding to medication. This should be done until improvements can be observed.
  • This is a contagious condition so you may want to have your partner examined as well if you have been diagnosed with this condition.

About the Author

Dr Jim Kokkinakis (Optometrist) graduated in 1983 from the Optometry School University of NSW. He is currently a Senior Lecturer there and regular speaker to both Optometrists and Ophthalmologists in Australia and Internationally. He has a specialist clinical practice in the Sydney CBD with interests in Eye Strain, Computer Vision problems, Treatment of Eye Diseases and complex Contact lens Fittings.

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