Granulomatous conjunctivitis is a serious eye condition, with some cases even being life threatening. It commonly results from infections, inflammatory diseases, and autoimmune conditions.
Like other types of conjunctivitis (pink eye), the main symptoms include inflammation of the membrane covering the white part of your eye.
“Granulomatous” refers to the presence of granulomas in the eye, which consist of white blood cells. Granulomas may develop anywhere in the body, including the skin, mouth, and internal organs.
Learn more about granulomatous conjunctivitis, including possible symptoms, causes, and treatment options available.
One key sign of this type of pink eye is the presence of granulomas. These are small nodules that form when white blood cells accumulate and clump together. Granulomas can develop anywhere along the eye and be pink, red, or skin-colored.
Granulomatous conjunctivitis shares some similar symptoms with other types of pink eye. These include:
- redness of the white part of your eye
- eye swelling
- upper eyelid swelling
Depending on the underlying cause, granulomatous conjunctivitis may occur in one eye or both. Over time, this type of pink eye may also cause vision loss.
Granulomas develop in the body in response to inflammation. This includes those that occur in your eye along with conjunctivitis. The underlying inflammation may be caused by:
- infections, such as tuberculosis or cat-scratch disease
- inflammatory diseases, such as sarcoidosis or vasculitis
- autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease
- exposure to allergens or irritants
- foreign objects in your eye
- chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), a rare genetic disorder affecting your white blood cells’ ability to deal with pathogens like bacteria and fungi
Unlike bacterial and viral conjunctivitis, granulomatous conjunctivitis isn’t always contagious. This means the granulomas cannot be transmitted to others, similar to allergic types of conjunctivitis.
However, bacterial or viral pink eye can also cause granulomas to form. The nodules on your eye may not be contagious, but the underlying infection can still be transmitted to others.
Granulomatous conjunctivitis may also result from foreign objects that get stuck in your eye. Examples include fibers, dirt, and sand. In response to the object, white blood cells may gather around the spot and eventually clump together.
Due to the several possible causes of granulomatous conjunctivitis, anyone can get it if they encounter a foreign object in their eye or if they develop serious infections.
Having an autoimmune or inflammatory disease may also increase your risk of developing this type of pink eye.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis can be uncomfortable and interfere with your quality of life. Some forms of pink eye cannot be treated, such as viral types.
If left untreated, granulomatous conjunctivitis can cause problems with your vision, including possible vision loss.
Granulomatous conjunctivitis and Parinaud oculoglandular syndrome
Researchers also believe that granulomatous conjunctivitis may be a precursor to Parinaud’s oculoglandular syndrome (POGS). This condition is results from cat-scratch disease.
POGS involves granulomatous conjunctivitis in one eye. Fever and swollen lymph nodes are also common.
Any suspected case of conjunctivitis ought to be looked at by an eye doctor. They can help determine the type of pink eye you have, as well as offer the right treatments.
It’s important to see a doctor if you have a suspected nodule, or granuloma, on your eye. This is a key sign of granulomatous conjunctivitis.
Some causes of granulomatous conjunctivitis, such as CGD or tuberculosis, may be life threatening if left untreated. Go to the nearest emergency room if you have symptoms of pink eye and:
- possibly have a foreign object stuck in your eye
- are experiencing severe eye pain
- have loss of vision
A doctor may be able to identify the possible presence of a granuloma on your eye with an eye exam. As with diagnosing other types of conjunctivitis, diagnosis may include:
- getting a history of signs and symptoms
- looking closely at your conjunctiva
- physical evaluation of the eye to determine if other parts are affected by inflammation
- smear or culture of mucus or tissues from the affected eye
- visual acuity tests
Treatment for granulomatous conjunctivitis will vary depending on the cause. Options may include:
- short-term antibiotic or antifungal medications for acute infections like tuberculosis
- long-term antibiotics or antifungals to help prevent infections (in people with CGD)
- steroid eyedrops to reduce inflammation
- oral steroids for systemic inflammation, such as in autoimmune or inflammatory diseases
- antihistamine (allergy) eye drops to relieve itchiness
Prevention of granulomatous conjunctivitis ultimately depends on the underlying cause.
If you have exposure to someone with a viral or bacterial eye infection, it’s possible you might develop one, too. To keep yourself healthy, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eye area.
For a systemic disease, treating the condition may help prevent complications such as this type of pink eye.
You can also take steps to help prevent granulomatous conjunctivitis that may be related to foreign objects getting stuck in your eyes. Wear protective eye gear when using power tools, as well as sunglasses when you’re outdoors.
There are numerous types of conjunctivitis — or pink eye. Granulomatous conjunctivitis is one type that features inflammation, as well as the presence of a granuloma, a white blood cell-containing nodule on the eye.
Treatment for granulomatous conjunctivitis depends on the underlying cause. Eye conditions like conjunctivitis must be properly diagnosed by a doctor so that you receive the current treatment. If you have symptoms of pink eye and a granuloma, consider seeing a doctor right away.