GPC Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC) is an immune-mediated, inflammatory disorder that is a response to the presence of an irritant. That irritant can be an allergen, a contact lens, an ocular prosthesis, an exposed postoperative suture (stitch), a contact lens solution or even the dirty deposits of bacteria and buildup that accumulates in and on a contact lens. Basically something interacts with the inside of your eyelid to the point where it becomes irritated and bumpy, leaving your eye very uncomfortable.It is most commonly associated with soft contact lens use, especially contacts that aren’t being thoroughly rubbed cleaned, thrown out frequently and/or are worn for long hours (especially overnight). Although GPC can be extremely uncomfortable and annoying to deal with, it is NOT a dangerous condition and it will not cause permanent vision loss or cause permanent damage to your eyes. It is also ok to go to work, as it is NOT contagious.
Many eye doctor’s call GPC in contact lens wearers Contact Lens Induced Papillary Conjunctivitis (CLPC). CLPC can cause your eyes to feel horrible. Many people will have symptoms that include tearing, significant mucus production, and itching. The eyes will most commonly present as red, irritated and uncomfortable. Sometimes the eyes will even feel worse after the contact lens is removed, because the contact was acting as a protective layer between the sensitive cornea and the bumpy lid that is rubbing against it. The presence of the irritant (ex, prolonged exposure to a dirty contact) leads to the production of giant papillae (bumps) on the under surface of the upper eyelid. One may think of it as a rash in response to touching something irritating, like poison ivy.
Here is what makes sense to me. The longer you wear a contact lens the more irritating it is to your eye. The dirtier the contact lens the more irritating it is to your eye. Therefore the ideal formula for irritating your eye, is wearing a dirty contact for as long as possible.That would also explain why people who sleep in there lenses are 3 times more likely to experience GPC than a normal daily use contact lens wearer. Furthermore, I have personally never seen CLPC exhibited in a patient who uses a brand new lens everyday, ie a daily disposable contact lens wearer. Therefore, I am attributing CLPC in the majority of my contact lens patients to wearing a not so clean contact for too long of a period. The good news is that I can help provide the ways and means to return you to healthy and comfortable contact lens wear.
GPC is a fully reversible condition in the great majority of cases simply discontinuing contact lens wear. I recognize that I would be hard pressed to find a patient who would be 100% compliant with the idea of suspending contact lens wear indefinitely. There for I have adopted the following care package which will get you back into contact lenses as quick as possible. However, I will state that contact lens wearers with significant signs and symptoms of GPC, should ideally discontinue use of contact lenses until a noted improvement of the signs and especially the symptoms of the disorder have resolved. The giant papillae themselves may not fully disappear for many months or years even after removal of the contact lenses although the symptoms will have surely been long resolved. Most likely you will be out of contacts for a few days to about a week.
My treatment plan is highly effective, geared towards the fastest resolution, and the minimization of the chance of recurrence. It most certainly will involve a change into a daily disposable contact if possible. If a daily disposable is not an option, we would implement a strict contact lens hygiene regime consisting of a rub-rinse-soak routine (Opti-Free Replenish or Clear Care) and the most frequently replaced lens available. Finally, cold compress and artificial tears/rewetting drops may be implemented several times daily which may afford additional relief by providing a moisture rich barrier between the lid and the lens. It will also include the use of medication to help return the eyelid to a normal condition and to alleviate the symptoms. Typically Pataday, an antihistamine/mast-cell stabilizer will be utilized. For patients with particularly severe GPC, a short course of corticosteroid eye drops (ie. FML, Alrex, Lotemax) may be prescribed alternatively or in conjunction with the Pataday. Both agents will help to control and suppress certain aspects of the inflammation associated with the GPC, leaving you eye feeling a lot better.