Conjunctival chalasis, also called conjunctivochalasis, is an eye condition characterized by excess folds of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a thin mucous membrane covering the sclera, which is the white part of the eye.
This membrane also lines the inside of your eyelid. Conjunctival chalasis causes this membrane to loosen and bunch up between the eyelid margin and the eyeball itself.
Even though conjunctival chalasis is a fairly common condition, you might not have heard of it. One reason for this may be because the condition is underdiagnosed.
For the most part, this is because conjunctival chalasis shares many similarities with another common eye disease: dry eye. Keep reading to learn more about conjunctival chalasis!
What Are The Symptoms of Conjunctival Chalasis?
Conjunctival chalasis can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on each person and the severity. While specific symptoms can vary from person to person, conjunctival chalasis can cause:
- A feeling of dryness in the eyes
- Irritation in the eyes
- Blurry vision
- Excessive tearing
- Redness and inflammation
- Discomfort when blinking
- A foreign sensation in the eye
If these symptoms sound familiar to you, it might be because they are very similar to the ones produced by dry eye. In fact, you’ve probably experienced some of these yourself at one point or another.
However, there are some critical differences in symptoms between dry eye and conjunctival chalasis. Unlike patients with dry eye, conjunctival chalasis patients can usually identify exactly where the foreign body sensation is.
Conjunctival chalasis can often produce a lot of discomfort as well, especially when blinking. The two conditions can be present at the same time, which can make it difficult to distinguish between them.
Conjunctival chalasis is not necessarily a big problem, but severe cases can have negative consequences. As with dry eye, severe conjunctival chalasis can lead to blurry vision and discomfort.
If you are experiencing similar symptoms, it is essential to visit your eye doctor at Westlake Eye Specialists in order to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
What Causes Conjunctival Chalasis?
Age is probably the most significant factor when it comes to conjunctival chalasis. Most cases of conjunctival chalasis seem to be caused by the conjunctiva gradually thinning out and stretching.
The conjunctiva may stop sticking to the sclera and lose elasticity, causing it to slack and pool up at the bottom of the eyelid. This interferes with the processes of the eye mechanically, specifically with the tear film.
Excessively rubbing your eyes might also cause conjunctival chalasis. If you are experiencing itchy eyes, it is always better to rely on artificial tears for relief.
Not only will the eye drops work better, but you will also be preventing yourself from hurting your eyes. Other risk factors include a family history of dry eye, chronic conjunctiva inflammation, longstanding eye allergies that cause conjunctivitis, or previous eye surgeries.
One study suggests that a history of thyroid disease can strongly impact the chances of developing conjunctival chalasis.
How is Conjunctival Chalasis Diagnosed?
It is crucial to have your eye diseases diagnosed by a professional. As you have learned, there are a few differences between dry eye disease and conjunctival chalasis symptoms.
An accurate diagnosis is necessary for an accurate treatment. Your eye doctor at Westlake Eye Specialists can diagnose conjunctival chalasis with a comprehensive eye exam.
A comprehensive eye exam is a series of tests and examinations performed by an ophthalmologist to get a clear understanding of the state of your eyes and vision. For conjunctival chalasis specifically, the eye doctor will likely have you perform a visual acuity test, examine your eyes through a slit lamp, and evaluate your tear production.
They will be able to tell if conjunctival chalasis is present and how severe the condition is. The severity will determine what kind of treatment is needed.
You can schedule a comprehensive eye exam in Austin, Texas, right now with Westlake Eye Specialists!
How is Conjunctival Chalasis Treated?
Depending on how severe the condition is, conjunctival chalasis can be treated with medication or surgery. In the mildest cases of conjunctival chalasis, simple artificial tears can help alleviate symptoms by lubricating your eyes manually.
Certain topical medications like corticosteroids or antibiotics can help fight infections or inflammation caused by conjunctival chalasis. More severe cases of conjunctival chalasis require more direct confrontation.
A conjunctival resection removes the excess conjunctival tissue. This tightens the tissue, reducing the symptoms overall.
An amniotic membrane transplantation may be necessary in the worst cases of conjunctival chalasis. This treatment involves placing a thin amniotic membrane layer directly onto the cornea, which promotes healing and can help reduce inflammation.
Can Conjunctival Chalasis Be Prevented?
There is no guarantee that you can avoid conjunctival chalasis, but there are steps you can take to prevent it from getting worse. First of all, break the habit of rubbing your eyes.
It only damages them and does not provide lasting relief. Use artificial tears as needed.
Also, limiting your exposure to sunlight and UV rays may help. However, since the primary cause of conjunctival chalasis is age, it may be unavoidable.
Are you experiencing symptoms of conjunctival chalasis? Schedule an appointment at Westlake Eye Specialists in Austin, TX, today!