Condition 101 About Chemosis

What is the definition of Chemosis?

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

What are the alternative names for Chemosis?

Fluid-filled conjunctiva; Swollen eye or conjunctiva


Chemosis is a sign of eye irritation. The outer surface of the eye (conjunctiva) may look like a big blister. It can also look like it has fluid in it. When severe, the tissue swells so much that you can't close your eyes properly.

Chemosis is often related to allergies or an eye infection. Chemosis can also be a complication of eye surgery, or it may occur from rubbing the eye too much.

What are the causes for Chemosis?

Causes may include:

  • Angioedema
  • Allergic reaction
  • Bacterial infection (conjunctivitis)
  • Viral infection (conjunctivitis)


Over-the-counter antihistamines and cool compresses placed on the closed eyes may help with symptoms due to allergies.

When should I contact a medical professional for Chemosis?

Call your health care provider if:

  • Your symptoms do not go away.
  • You can't close your eye all the way.
  • You have other symptoms, such as eye pain, change in vision, difficulty breathing, or fainting.


The provider 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 provider may prescribe eye medicine to reduce swelling and treat any conditions that may be causing the chemosis.



Barnes SD, Kumar NM, Pavan-Langston D, Azar DT. Microbial conjunctivitis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 114.

McNab AA. Orbital infection and inflammation. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 12.14.

Rubenstein JB, Spektor T. Conjunctivitis: infectious and noninfectious. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 4.6.

Latest Advances On Chemosis

  • Condition: Graves' Ophthalmopathy
  • Journal: Folia medica
  • Treatment Used: Superolateral Orbital Decompression
  • Number of Patients: 8
  • Published —
In this study, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of surgical decompression of the orbit for the treatment of Graves' ophthalmopathy.
  • Condition: Acute Monocular Nasal Hemianopia after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Journal: Medicine
  • Treatment Used: Systemic Steroid Pulse Therapy
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
This case report describes a patient that developed acute monocular nasal hemianopia after a mild traumatic brain injury.

Clinical Trials For Chemosis

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Intervention Type: Procedure
  • Participants: 40
  • Start Date: November 7, 2019
A Prospective, One-center Clinical Trial to Identify the Safety and Feasibility of Sutureless Pars-plana Vitrectomy Performed in Sub-tenon Anesthesia.