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Acute Dacryoadenitis

Last updated Aug. 22, 2019

Reviewed by: Nizamuddin SHM, MD, FRCS

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Acute Dacryoadenitis is generally caused by viral, bacterial, or fungal infections.

What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Synonyms)

  • Acute Inflammation of the Lacrimal Gland
  • Acute Lacrimal Gland Inflammation

What is Acute Dacryoadenitis? (Definition/Background Information)

  • Dacryoadenitis is a rare condition that is characterized by the inflammation of the lacrimal gland which is located near the eye. The lacrimal gland is responsible for producing tears. Dacryoadenitis can be acute or chronic
  • Acute Dacryoadenitis is generally caused by viral, bacterial, or fungal infections. The signs and symptoms may include painful outer eyelid, excessive tearing, and fever. The onset of the condition is rapid or sudden; it may develop within hours to days. It is less common than chronic Dacryoadenitis
  • The condition can affect individuals of any age. The risk factors for developing Acute Dacryoadenitis include exposure to microscopic pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi
  • A healthcare professional may use a physical exam, previous medical history, and blood tests in order to diagnose the condition. The diagnosis of Acute Dacryoadenitis will also involve an eye exam by an eye specialist
  • If adequate treatment of Acute Dacryoadenitis is provided, such as treating the cause of infection, the prognosis is good

Who gets Acute Dacryoadenitis? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Individuals of different ages and genders can be affected by Acute Dacryoadenitis
  • The condition can be observed in any race or ethnicity with no preference being observed

What are the Risk Factors for Acute Dacryoadenitis? (Predisposing Factors)

  • The key risk factor for Acute Dacryoadenitis is exposure to viral, bacterial, fungal, and other infections

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases one's chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.

Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Acute Dacryoadenitis? (Etiology)

Acute Dacryoadenitis is usually caused by an infection, most commonly by a viral infection. It can also result due to certain bacterial, fungal, and other infections, but these are generally uncommon.

  • Viruses that may be involved include:
    • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV); it is the most common infectious cause
    • Mumps rubulavirus
    • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
    • Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
    • Varicella zoster
    • Coxsackie virus
    • Echovirus
  • Bacteria that may be involved include:
    • Gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria
    • Staphylococcus
    • Streptococcus
    • Gonococcus
    • Chlamydia trachomatis
    • In rare cases, bacterial infections such as brucellosis, syphilis, Lyme disease, and tuberculosis
  • Fungi that may be involved include:
    • Histoplasma
    • Blastomyces
  • Rarely, parasitic infections through the following organisms:
    • Acanthamoeba (rare); a type of protozoa
    • Schistosoma or blood flukes
  • Bacterial and viral cause may be associated with upper respiratory infections

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Acute Dacryoadenitis?

The signs and symptoms of Acute Dacryoadenitis may include:

  • The outer portion of the upper eyelid may become swollen, red, and painful
  • Tearing may be excessive
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Foreign body sensation in the eye
  • Fever and upper respiratory infection
  • Lymph nodes located in the front of the ear may be swollen
  • Malaise (general feeling of discomfort)
  • The condition can be unilateral or bilateral, meaning that either one eye or both the eyes may be affected

How is Acute Dacryoadenitis Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of Acute Dacryoadenitis may include the following tests and procedures:

  • Thorough analysis of one’s medical history; information about travel and immunization history is also important
  • Complete physical examination including examination of the eye and eyelid
  • Symptom assessment: Generally, a sudden onset of the signs and symptoms indicate an acute condition
  • Blood tests that include the following:
    • Complete blood count: An increased number of white blood cells in blood may indicate an infection
    • Blood tests for detecting antibodies against a viral etiology/cause
    • Blood cultures: If the cultures are negative, then a Chlamydia trachomatis infection should be considered
  • Smear and culture of any discharge (from the eye)
  • CT scan and MRI scan of the orbit
  • Biopsy of the inflamed lacrimal gland tissue: A tissue biopsy is performed and sent to a laboratory for a pathological examination. A pathologist examines the biopsy under a microscope. After putting together clinical findings, special studies on tissues (if needed) and with microscope findings, the pathologist arrives at a definitive diagnosis 

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

What are the possible Complications of Acute Dacryoadenitis?

The complications of Acute Dacryoadenitis could include:

  • Systemic infections due to the presence of virus, bacteria, or fungi
  • Distortion of vision due to pressure from the swollen eye
  • Recurrence of Dacryoadenitis following treatment

How is Acute Dacryoadenitis Treated?

The treatment measures for Acute Dacryoadenitis may include:

  • Applying a warm compress to the area (eye) and resting the eye for acute condition caused by viruses
  • Antiviral medication for viral infections causing Acute Dacryoadenitis; though, in many cases viral infections are self-limiting
  • Antibiotics for conditions caused by bacteria
  • Antifungal agents can be used to treat fungal-related condition
  • Treatment of symptoms: Analgesics for pain, antipyretics for fever, etc.
  • Surgical excision and removal of any tumor, if it is the cause of Acute Dacryoadenitis

How can Acute Dacryoadenitis be Prevented?

The prevention of Acute Dacryoadenitis may include the following measures:

  • Avoiding or minimizing contact with individuals who have an infection (virus, bacteria, or fungus) that can cause Dacryoadenitis
  • Regularly washing one’s hands to reduce the transmission of viral, bacterial, and fungal organisms
  • Availing vaccinations for various infections, such as mumps, can decrease the risk of infection
  • Safe sex practices can reduce the chance of being infected by bacteria that cause gonorrhea (which can cause Acute Dacryoadenitis)

What is the Prognosis of Acute Dacryoadenitis? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

  • Most Individuals with Acute Dacryoadenitis have a good prognosis and usually recover completely from the condition
  • The period of recovery may depend upon the severity of the infection

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Acute Dacryoadenitis:

Please visit our Eye & Vision Health Center for more physician-approved health information:


What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 26, 2016
Last updated: Aug. 22, 2019