Just by looking at someone who has chemosis, you can see how painful this disease can be. It’s a medical condition in the eye. The eye’s conjunctiva in patients with this disease swells up. This condition is caused mainly by the escape of cellular debris, fluids or cells from the capillaries in the eye. This makes the eye abnormally permeable.

Chemosis technically occurs when a patient’s eye becomes irritated, but this is a relatively non-specific sign, since many things can cause irritation of the eye. If you look more closely, the patient’s conjunctiva will look like it has liquid within it. The conjunctiva’s inflammation leads to a gelatinous appearance.

Each patient’s swelling is varied, and in some cases, the patient will not be able to close the eye completely or even partially. The inflammation sometimes causes the eyeball to appear as if it has been moved from its original position. The eyeball itself is not covered by this excess fluid.

Chemosis Symptoms

The most common chemosis symptoms include:

  • Watery, red appearance of the eye(s)
  • Conjunctiva becomes inflamed.
  • Itchiness may sometimes be present, and this is aggravated if the patient rubs his eyes excessively, since this may lead to bacterial infections.
  • The inflammation may cause excessive tearing.
  • The conjunctiva may appear gelatinous.
  • The patient’s vision may be affected by the conjunctiva, causing double vision or blurry vision.
  • Patients may not be able to close their eyes, due to inflammation. The eyelids may also become inflamed.
  • The eyeball may look as though it has moved from its normal position, due to inflammation.

If you experience severe inflammation or intense pain in an eye, you may be the victim of a severe allergic reaction. These severe reactions may be accompanied by other symptoms, including  wheezing, increased heart rate and throat tissue swelling, which makes it difficult to breathe. These are emergency situations, since they are life-threatening.

Chemosis Causes

The most common causes of chemosis include:

  • Viral infection

There are numerous viruses that may lead to conjunctiva inflammation, sometimes transmitted through personal hygiene objects like towels.

  • Allergy

Seasonal allergies may cause chemosis, in addition to watery, itchy eyes.

  • Superior vena cava obstruction

This diagnosis may be conformed if a patient has facial edema.

  • Disorders of the thyroid gland

If the patient has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, their chemosis may include bulging eyes, a lag or retraction of lids and puffiness around the orbits of their eyes.

  • Carotid-cavernous fistula

This condition has three classic symptoms, which include the bulging of eyes and ocular bruit, as well as actual chemosis.

  • Cavernous sinus thrombosis

This condition is serious. It occurs when a blood clot is formed in the cavity at the brain base, in the cavernous sinus. This condition presents often with paranasal sinus infection, which leads to a wide array of other symptoms in addition to chemosis. They include:

  • Bulging of eyes
  • Edema found around eye orbits
  • Papilledema
  • Retina level hemorrhage
  • Abnormal extra-ocular movements
  • Sensory off at the trigeminal nerve level
  • Trichinellosis

This is a parasitic disease brought on by the consumption of undercooked, infected or raw meats, especially pork or wild game.

  • Cluster headaches

In this neurological disorder, patients suffer from recurring headaches, usually around the eye and unilateral.

  • Angioedema

This is a severe allergic reaction, sometimes leading to suffocation if there is not emergency medical intervention.

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

This autoimmune disease affects the connective tissue. The immune system of the patient attacks healthy body tissues.

  • Panophthalmitis

This causes eye coat inflammation, including swelling of the intraocular level.

  • Acute glaucoma

This is a medical emergency in which the pressure inside the eye is increased.

  • Gonorrheal conjunctivitis

This infection is transmitted through intercourse. It can cause damage at eye level, if the patient does not receive proper treatment.

  • Orbital cellulitis

This is a severe level of inflammation of the tissues of the eye, most often brought on by acute infections that have spread into the patient’s eye socket.

  • Urticaria

This is a dermatologic disorder that quite often appears as allergic reactions after an exposure to various allergens.

  • Dacryocystitis

This is an infection in the lacrimal sac. It is caused by nasolacrimal duct obstruction.

  • Rhabdomyosarcoma of the orbit

This is a rare type of malignant tumor, which has a high death risk.


A chemosis diagnosis is made with one of these methods:

  • Physical exam using ophthalmologic instruments
  • Patient interview – the physician will ask:
  • When was this change noticed for the first time?
  • Do you know if you’re allergic to anything?
  • Do you have other symptoms, like excess watering or itchiness?
  • Biopsy – This is only recommended when a tumor is suspected.


For chemosis symptoms to improve, a physician must first treat the condition that causes the symptoms. He may also administer symptomatic treatment, to help alleviate symptoms.

The most common chemosis treatments include:

  • Antibiotics

These medications are recommended when there are bacterial infections involved. These may appear after the eyes are excessively rubbed.

They should be taken for the full length of their prescribed time, or the bacteria may develop a resistance to this treatment.

Probiotics may be administered along with antibiotics, to maintain a healthy level of intestinal flora.

  • Antihistamines

These meds are prescribed for patients who have allergies, to reduce the conjunctiva inflammation and to bring relief from other symptoms like itchiness and pain.

Antihistamines may be taken orally or administered topically, depending on other symptoms and inflammation severity.

  • Adrenaline

This is used in emergency treatment, in case you experience a severe allergic reaction.

If you know about your serious allergies, you should carry allergy shots that will give you time for emergency personal to arrive.

  • Anti-inflammatory medications

These may be administered orally or topically.

They reduce inflammation and offer relief from itchiness and pain.

When should you see a physician?

If you see sudden swelling in the conjunctiva of your eyes, visit your physician for a consultation. Don’t delay in scheduling an appointment, since you could be experiencing a severe allergic reaction.

Your physician will administer several tests, to determine your allergies, if you don’t already know them. If you have trouble breathing, this could be a severe reaction and you should immediately call 911 for emergency medical attention.

If your physician discovers that you’re allergic to specific things, avoid them and carry an allergy shot with you at all times, in case of an emergency.

Pictures of Eyes affected by Chemosis

Here is what chemosis in the eye looks like…




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