Papillary conjunctivitis, also known as giant papillary conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the inside of the eyelid, usually the upper eyelid, where rough bumps and plaques appear. The cause is usually contact lens wear and it can onset at any time, even when people are very careful about caring for their contacts and protecting their eyes. Treatment involves taking lenses out, using eyedrops to address the inflammation, and resting the eye. Once fully recovered, new lenses can be inserted. If the condition returns, it may be necessary to switch to glasses for vision correction or to consider surgery.
Patients with papillary conjunctivitis may notice that their eyelids appear puffy, swollen, and red. Blinking can be painful, as the bumps are dragged across the surface of the eye and there may be more discharge from the eye than usual as the eye attempts to deal with the inflammation. If the eyelid is pulled down or flipped, the bumps will be visible, making diagnosis of this condition very easy.
Management of papillary conjunctivitis can include using warm compresses, as well as applying eyedrops. When the eye is fully rested, the bumps should resolve and the eyelid will return to its normal texture and color. Continuing to wear contact lenses through the inflammation can lead to an exacerbation of symptoms and may cause considerable discomfort for the patient.
Some other potential causes of papillary conjunctivitis include wearing a prosthetic eye or having exposed suture knots left behind after surgery. These knots must be left in place while the eye heals, and they will eventually dissolve or be removed by the surgeon. People who notice symptoms like pain, redness, discharge, or vision changes after surgery should make an appointment to see an ophthalmologist for evaluation. Untreated eye conditions can cause partial vision loss or blindness.
If a patient experiences recurrent bouts of papillary conjunctivitis after obvious causes are addressed, there may be an underlying inflammatory process going on. A more thorough evaluation may be required to see if inflammation is occurring elsewhere in the body and to rule out environmental irritants; the patient could be having an allergic reaction to something like smoke, pollen, or pet dander. It is important to be aware that allergies can arise at any time, even after years of not reacting to an allergen when exposed, and thus they should not be ruled out if a patient hasn't experienced any recent environmental changes like a new home or a different office at work.