Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis

What is giant papillary conjunctivitis?

Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) is eye irritation that can develop when you wear contact lenses.

How does it occur?

GPC can be caused by:

  • an allergic reaction to the chemicals in contact lens solutions
  • an allergic reaction to deposits that can build up on contacts
  • the contact lens rubbing on the inside of the upper eyelid
  • Usually allergic reactions affect both eyes. Rubbing of the contact lens can cause irritation in only one eye.
  • One chemical that often causes GPC is a preservative called thimerosal. It is found in many contact lens solutions. It can remain in soft contact lenses after cleaning and disinfecting. Or it can coat the surface of gas permeable lenses. Your eyes may react to thimerosal or other chemicals at any time, even after you have used the same products for months or years.

The symptoms may include:

  • itchy feeling or foreign body sensation
  • redness
  • watery discharge
  • changing vision
  • drooping eyelids
  • more movement of your contacts than usual when you blink

These symptoms may or may not go away when you take your contacts out.

How is it diagnosed?

Drs. Bellotte will examine your eyes and the inside of your eyelids. He or she will watch to see if your eyelids seem to grab your contacts and keep them high on the front of your eyes. This happens most often if you have large bumps on the inside of your eyelids, but it can happen even if the bumps are very small.

How is it treated?

Treatment of GPC usually involves discontinuing contact lens wear for several days or weeks. The doctors may recommend that you use different cleaning, wetting, or soaking solutions. You may need to change your lens-care routine to reduce the buildup of deposits on the lenses.

You may need to change to a different type of contact lens. They may recommend disposable contacts that you throw away after 1 day instead. Dr. Bellotte may prescribe eye drops to reduce your symptoms by helping your eyes lessen their response to allergens.

How can I take care of my eyes?

Follow the doctors? directions carefully. It may take some time to discover the exact cause of your GPC and then to control it.

In addition, you can:

  • Use your medicines as directed.
  • Keep reusable contacts clean.
  • Keep all appointments for checkups.