The conjunctiva is a clear membrane that covers the sclera (white part of the eye) and lines the inside of the eyelids. It is made of lymphoid tissue.
It helps lubricate the eye
by producing mucus
, although a smaller volume of tears
than the lacrimal gland
It also contributes to immune surveillance
and helps to prevent the entrance of microbes
into the eye.
The conjunctiva is typically divided into three parts:
- Palpebral or tarsal conjunctiva: The conjunctiva lining the eyelids.
- Fornix conjunctiva: The conjunctiva where the inner part of the eyelids and the eyeball meet, the palpebral conjunctiva is reflected at the superior fornix and the inferior fornix to become the bulbar conjunctiva. It is loose and flexible, allowing the free movement of the lids and eyeball. An ophthalmologist can insert eye drops into the lower eyelid space. The substance works its way up the surface of the eyeball and diffuse into the internal eye.
- Bulbar or ocular conjunctiva: The conjunctiva covering the eyeball, over the sclera. This region of the conjunctiva is bound tightly and moves with the eyeball movements.
Diseases and disorders
Disorders of the conjunctiva and cornea
are a common source of eye complaints.
The surface of the eye is exposed to various external influences and is especially suspectible to trauma, infections, and allergic reactions.
The conjunctiva is best known because of its inflamed state, conjunctivitis (more commonly known as pinkeye).
Conjunctival irritation is one of the adverse health effects that can take place after overexposure to VOCs (Volatile organic compounds).
- Medicinenet.com (1999). Conjunctiva Retrieved July 25, 2004.