What is Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis?

The term conjunctivitis refers to inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the inner eyelids and covers the front of the eye. Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis, or GPC, is an inflammatory disorder that develops primarily in contact lens wearers. This presents with small to large nodules that develop on the inner eyelid called papillae.

What causes GPC?

GPC is not an infection, but an irritation of the eye. The reaction can be caused by different things including protein deposits, sensitivity to the contact lens material and mechanical irritation from the lens or other foreign material. The most common cause of GPC is improper contact lens care and hygiene.

What are the symptoms of GPC?

Symptoms include itchy eyes with a mucous-y discharge, painful sensitivity to light, fluctuating vision, excessive movement of contact lenses and desire to remove lenses earlier in the day.
The characteristic manifestation of GPC is the formation of nodules on the inside of the eye-lid which is often said to resemble cobblestones.

How is GPC treated?

Mild cases of GPC may be treated by increasing frequency of contact lens replacement and reviewing proper contact lens care and cleaning protocols. Prevention can include a decrease in wearing time and avoidance contact lens wear in the presence of known allergens such as pollen which can build up on the lens and cause irritation.

In more severe cases, your doctor may ask you to discontinue contact lens use either permanently or until the condition has cleared completely. Though GPC often resolves on its own,  a short course of topical medications may be used to speed healing and provide relief.

For those prone to GPC who wish to continue contact lens wear, daily disposable contact lenses may be a better option. Your doctor may also recommend a change in contact lens solution as allergies may develop with prolonged use.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, see your optometrist for a proper assessment and treatment options.