Help and frequently asked questions

What is giant papillary conjunctivitis?


Giant papillary conjunctivitis, often abbreviated to GPC, is a condition in which the inner lining of the eyelid swells and develops small bumps. Known as papillae, these bumps tend to form after chronic irritation and usually result from wearing contact lenses over time. These bumps can expand and combine, leading to larger growths and a cobblestone-like appearance.

What are the symptoms of GPC?

People with GPC may experience a white discharge from the area, as well as suffering from redness, itching and light sensitivity. These problems often get worse when contact lenses are removed. Other symptoms include:

  • Increased mucous production
  • Foreign body sensation when contact lenses are removed
  • Wanting to remove contact lenses earlier in the day
  • Contact lenses moving around more
  • Contact lenses don't fit as well as before
  • Blurred vision

Burning sensationWhat causes GPC?

GPC is primarily a contact lens related condition, although the condition can develop in other circumstances such as in people who have artificial eyes or have exposed sutures in their eyes. GPC can be caused by a number of issues with contact lenses, including allergies to the chemicals used to clean them, the rubbing of the lenses against the eyelid, and protein deposit build-up on the lenses. People who already have allergies are thought to be more prone to developing GPC, as are those who wear soft rather than hard contact lenses. 

How is GPC diagnosed?

Visit your local optometrist and discuss your symptoms to discover whether you have GPC. They will likely take a careful history of your complaints and then observe your eyes under an upright microscope called a slit lamp. The optometrist will flip your upper eyelid outward to examine the inner eyelid, and may also apply a dye to temporarily stain the tissue for easier diagnosis. 

Are there treatments for GPC?

There are several treatments for GPC, although most people will simply be asked to remove their contact lenses until the irritation calms down. While it may only be a few weeks before the area heals, it can take six months or longer. This means you may need to consider alternative options for any vision problems you have, such as glasses. Other treatments can include switching out your cleaning solution if you are allergic to your current product, or swapping your contact lenses for a different type. Eye medications such as steroid drops may also be prescribed.