What is it?
The conjunctiva is a part of the eye that covers the white of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. Irritation or damage to this surface can lead to conjunctival disease.
The conjunctiva can be damaged by injury, infection, chemical irritation, allergic reactions, dry eye and, rarely, by cancers. Inflammation in the conjunctiva is known as conjunctivitis.
Inflammation may be caused by infection (such as trachoma) or by an ‘auto-immune’ response in which the body attacks itself with the system that usually fights off infection.
Age can also lead to the conjunctiva becoming loose and developing folds.
Symptoms of conjunctival disease may range from redness and irritation to discharge, swollen eyelids, a burning sensation and pain.
Some conjunctival conditions can cause significant scarring. The eyelids can become stuck to the eye and cause sight loss because of damage to the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye).
Treatment for conjunctival disorders will depend on the condition and the exact symptoms. Options may include antibiotics, steroids and other anti-inflammatories, eye drops and surgery.
Important areas for conjunctival research are to develop better treatments for inflammation and to replace or repair damaged tissue.
You could play an important part in eye research by being a participant in clinical research study that may benefit many people. You could even help shape clinical research by becoming more actively involved and having a say. Patients, carer, or anyone with an interest can help.
What are clinical trials
Clinical trials are research studies that find out if a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. They are a key research tool for improving medical knowledge and patient care. The people who carry out research are mostly the same doctors and healthcare professionals who treat people. Their aim is to find better ways of treating patients and keeping people healthy.
Here are some ways to find out about research projects and clinical trials that you can get involved in.
UK Clinical Trials Gateway
The UK Clinical Trials Gateway run by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) provides easy to understand information about clinical research trials running in the UK, and gives to a large range of information about these trials. It is designed to enable patients and clinicians to locate and contact trials of interest. Visit their website and select the eye condition that you are interested in.
NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio
The NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio is a database of high-quality clinical research studies in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Within this the Ophthalmology Specialty Group supports a national portfolio of research studies in ophthalmology and the vision sciences. See their website for details.
If you wish to join a trial it is always best to discuss this with your doctor or clinical team first.
Last updated August 2015
Dr Rosalind Stewart, Moorfields Eye Hospital