Conjunctival chemosis from eye allergy (Video)

This video shows swelling of the conjunctiva that is classically seen with allergy. The conjunctival tissue is only loosely adherent to the underlying sclera and can look impressive when swollen with edema.

Ocular allergies are usually self-limited and can be treated with cool compresses and anti-allergens like Patanol, Zaditor (now over-the-counter), or cromolyn.

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Chemosis Eye
This photo shows a swollen chemotic eyelid. Though chemosis looks impressive, it is generally harmless and usually occurs from irritation and allergy.
Chemosis swelling
This closup of the eye shows a grossly swollen conjunctiva. This chemosis occurs typically as an allergic response, though you can see a similary appearance with any irritation. The slit-beam of light in this picture hilights the transillumination you see in this condition (ie. the chemotic fluid is clear and not red like blood).
Dr. Timothy Root is a practicing ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon in Daytona Beach, Florida. His books, video lectures, and training resources can be found at:


  1. Very impressive. I just had my first bought with eye allergy. In addition to the conjuctiva being swollen, my sclera is also swollen. There is no redness in the swollen area, it is a line of white running from the inner side of the iris to the tear duct. It is very itchy. I have no idea what set it off, but this is the second time it’s happened in two days. I’m glad it’s not as severe as seen in this video.
    Going to put ice on it.

  2. my daughter has the same problems with her eye’s she is 3 years old she will be 4 in november. Every time she goes outside or eat certain foods her eye’s will swell up like that the conjuctival will swell up and cover’s up the pupal of her eye’s can u tell me what cause’s it.

  3. Monique,
    It sounds as if your daughter is having an allergic response to something. I recommend you see an eye doctor (see an MD as they can prescribe anti-allergy eyedrops like Patanol) and possibly an allergist (who might help you discover the cause of her allergy so you can avoid it).

  4. Dear sir,
    My father is suffering from chemosis for last 15 days. Doctor is saying it will take time for full recovery. Swelling is no more but a membrane like structure is still there. Wil it effect my father’s eyesight? He is using the spectacles. His another eye has very low eye sight.So,we are worried. How many days it will take for full recovery.
    Waiting for your response.

  5. I had an allergic eye reaction last week; prescribed anti biotic eye drops, anti histermine tabs and Otrivine Antistin eye drops. My eyes were considerably worse within 24 hours, went to the Eye hospital and was advised to stop the anti biotic drops, they felt they were aggrevating the problem. Since then the condition has very slowly improved. Have been using Simple Eye Ointment on the facial skin to keep it supple and moist.I had ‘clingfilm like’ bags on my cheeks. The itchiness has been unbearable at times, making me extremely irritable!!

  6. My Daughter is now 4years old and still haveing thwelling of the conjunctiva she has been to many doctors and they cant seem to find the problem and every time I go online to search for problems I find thembut they act just like they dont understand or cant beleive that her eye is swelling up like that they are like are sure that it is the white part of her eye please tell me what can I do

  7. Get naphcon A – sold at walgreens, buy the expensive kind not the generic… it’ll sting a bit. I found out i had chemosis about sic years ago, any type og outside allergen can cause it to swell my eyes up, and its evtremely uncomfortable and kinda gross. I was in the er when i was about 21, after riding horses, and my eyes had swollen and i couldnt close them. The blue colored part, and pupil remained normal size ( gross i know) but they said i was having an airborne allergy attack, but naphcon would clear it right up. Pissed as i was that they sent me to get some over the counter remedy in an emergency, the stuff worked, and has until this day. I can feel the itchy feeling coming on in my eyes, and i put it in and its gone before it has came.

    Good luck!!

    Oh naphcon is totally safe, kinda like visine but with antihistamines for your sensitive eyes….

  8. My 3 1/2 has also had chemosis…swelling for the first time this summer. Once quite severe. It is so scary looking. It only happens in the same eye however. Any ideas why??? He also gets a lot of puffiness around his eye. Is this common to others who experience chemosis?

  9. i am a nurse and ive seen almost all of the weird things the body can do, but this terrified me. i woke up late sunday night at 230am with this terrible pain in both of my eyes. on palpation of my eyes in the dark, i could feel the outsides of my eyes and my eye lids were very swollen and painful. i got up and looked in the mirror and i looked at my right eye first and it looked as if there was a large thick layer of mucous across my eye from corner to corner and to the top of my iris. i touched it and thats when i realized it was more like a large blister and it wasnt going anywhere. i proceeded to inspect my left eye and it was so much worse, the blister like material was so large it was hanging down over my lower eye lid and touching the top rim of my cheek. thats when i totally freaked out, beings that i had never heard of this condition, let alone see it. my husband might have been more freaked out then i was LOL. i rushed to the ER and to my relief it was as you all say an allergic conjunctival chemosis. they loaded me up with IV benedryl and IV decadron(a steroid) and gave me pred forte eye drops which are a steroid eye drop commonly used after cataract surgeries. and within ten minutes the swelling in the right eye was gone and the left was down considerably. they sent me home with the pred forte eye drops and orders for me to see an ophthamologist. i didnt go since it was an allergy to something i can only guess to be airbourn like mold spores since i cant see any mold in my room and did eat anything different or use any make up products for two days. i did some research on this condition and it says it is an FDA approved home treatable condition. which means other than peace of mind the ER really cant do anything different than you could do yourself… starting with cold water wash rag compresses on your affected eye for as long as you need it, visine-A eye drops in the affected eye(use as prescribed on the bottle) and liquid benedryl(for children or adults it is ok to double the dosage on the first dose, then in children further doses should be given as prescribed on the bottle, adults may continue to be doubled because the liquid benedryl only comes in child’s dose) but it tells you that on the bottle. it has been two days since i had the scare of my life, and the swelling is completely gone, but my eyes (especially the left) are very sore they almost feel bruised. and if my wet wash rag falls off in my sleep, my eyes get very dry, crusty and sore, im not sure why i am still having complications i probably should see the ophthamologist. i hope this is helpful to anyone looking up info on this condition.

  10. Monique,
    it sounds to me like she needs to see an allergist to find out what she is allergic to, they will do a test called a RAST test. this test will check her immune response against everything imaginable to see if she is allergic to it. it is just a simple blood test. But something you can do is check your home for mold. I already know that my allergies are to NSAIDS, penicillin (which is made from mold), mold, cats and dogs. So i am pretty sure, since mold spores release in spring and fall, my eye swelling was the result of airbourne contact to mold spores. i unfortunately am not able to find any mold in my home so i need to pay an expert to come out here and find it, since i know it is here. in my opinion based on the dates you have posted your question comments, mold spores are most likely the culprit. however, to be on the safe side, i would most definately get the rast test done. she will thank you in the long run. hope this is helpful.

  11. Hi Monique
    I had a similar thing happen to me- treated myself with anti-histamines, no make up etc. There was minimal response. I should have thought that this was not an allergy as there was no itching.I then had my thyroid checked and was found to be overactive. I have Graves disease now and the swelling is gone after treating with tapazole. You can get peri-orbital puffiness and chemosis with hyperthyroidism.
    The message is – get your thyroid checked!

  12. I have developed this condition because of recent eye surgery. I am 60, and 3 weeks ago I had surgery to remove the baggy skin on my top eyelids and baggy skin under my eyes.

    It looks like clear sticky jelly over my entire eye. Apparently it has happened because in cutting at the tissue of the lower eyelids it has interfered with the natural drainage system in the eye.
    It looks really gross and is extremely irritationg and uncomfortable inspite of the drops that were prescribed .
    This wasn’t mentioned to me as a possibility before the surgery. IF I had been made aware of this, I am positive I would have just rather lived with the baggy skin.

    The doctor says it will eventually go away, but gives me no hope of when . I have had many friends who have had plastic surgery to their eyes and this has not happed to them . I am very frightened about the future health of my eyes. IN a way I wish it was caused by an allergy because it seems like people are getting better and faster relief from the medicines given for allergies.

    This is awful and I am sorry for al the people who have the misfortune of being afflicted by it for what ever reason.

  13. I too have this irritating and upsetting condition. I have had it now for about 5 days, after having eye surgery 2 weeks ago. The Doc says….it’ll go, but can’t say when or what the permanent damage may be from all this?
    Very distressing 🙁


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