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Immunogenic Conjunctivitis

Immunogenic conjunctivitis

What is it?
Immunogenic conjunctivitis is a noninfectious inflammation found in association with systemic disorders of the immune system, such as Graves' disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren's syndrome, lupus erythematosus, Wegener's granulomatosis, relapsing polychondritis, and polyarteritis nodosa. (see Common Ophthalmic Manifestations of Rheumatic Diseases).

How does it present?
The symptoms are usually minimal; the patient complains of a chronic red eye. The conjunctiva is diffusely but mildly hyperemic without much discharge. Inflammation of the orbital soft tissues, cornea, and sclera may coexist. One or both eyes may be involved.

A systemic autoimmune disease may already be known, but sometimes the red eye is the first or most obvious sign. It will usually be mistaken for an infectious condition and treated without effect.

What to do?
Beware of chronically red eyes—they are probably not caused by infection. Refer for ophthalmologist evaluation, and keep a systemic autoimmune disease in mind.

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Originally created by Jonathan Trobe, M.D., University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center
© 2009 The Regents of the University of Michigan

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