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Chemosis

 

Definition

Chemosis is swelling of the tissue that lines the eyelids and surface of the eye (conjunctiva).

Alternative Names

Fluid-filled conjunctiva; Swollen eye or conjunctiva

Common Causes
  • Angioedema
  • Allergic response
  • Viral infection (conjunctivitis)
Home Care

Over-the-counter antihistamines and cool clothes placed on the eyes may help relieve symptoms due to angioedema or allergies.

If symptoms continue, see your doctor.

Call your health care provider if

Call your doctor if your symptoms do not go away. Also call if you have other symptoms such as eye pain, change in vision, difficulty breathing, or fainting.

What to expect at your health care provider's office

The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms, which may include:

  • When did it start?
  • How long does the swelling last?
  • How bad is the swelling?
  • How much is the eye swollen?
  • What, if anything, makes it better or worse?
  • What other symptoms do you have? (For example, breathing problems)

Your doctor may prescribe an eye cream to reduce swelling. If the swelling is caused by an infection, antibiotics will be given.

Considerations

In general, chemosis is a nonspecific sign of eye irritation. The outer surface covering appears to have fluid in it. Often, the eye area swells so much that you can't close your eyes properly.

Chemosis is often related to an allergic response or infection.


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Chemosis
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Review Date: 4/13/2009
Reviewed By: Paul B. Griggs, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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