The Asthma Center

Giant papillary conjunctivitis

Giant papillary conjunctivitis is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the mucous membranes of the upper eyelids. It is most often caused by soft contact lenses, but it can occur with any type of lens, ocular prosthesis, or even exposed sutures.

If you suffer from giant papillary conjunctivitis, you may suffer from itchy eyes following removal of your contact lenses, irritation, redness, burning, mucous discharge, light sensitivity (photophobia) and increasing contact lens intolerance. These symptoms may begin months to years following your initial use of contact lenses. Severe symptoms such as blurring of vision can occur due to movement of your lenses secondary to the presence of giant cobblestones of mucosal tissue beneath the eyelid or from debris deposited on the lens during the underlying inflammatory process. This condition may occur more frequently if you also have underlying allergies.

Diagnosis of giant papillary conjunctivitis is primarily based on removal of contact lenses to differentiate between this condition and atopic keratoconjunctivitis.


  • Reduce contact lens use or discontinue lens use
  • Topical mast cell stabilizers such as cromolyn sodium and dual acting topical ophthalmic medications may be helpful
  • Topical corticosteroids are effective in controlling more difficult symptoms
  • When symptoms clear up, it may be possible to resume contact lens use if you switch to an alternative lens type along with the use of preventive medication