The Conjunctiva

Parts of the Conjunctiva

  1. Palpebral conjunctiva
    • This lines the lids and can be divided into marginal, tarsal and orbital conjunctiva.
  2. Bulbar conjunctiva
    • Covers the anterior sclera and is separated from it by episclera tissue and tenon’s capsule.
    • It is loose, thin and transparent and can move easily.
    • Around the limbus, it is called the limbal conjunctiva.
    • At the limbus, the epithelium of the conjunctiva becomes continuous with that of the cornea.
  3. Fornical/fornix conjunctiva
    • This is a continuous cul-de-sac connecting palpebral and bulbar sections.


The conjunctiva consists of 3 layers – epithelium, adenoid layer and fibrous layer:

  1. Epithelium – has 2-5 layers of stratified squamous cell epithelium. The superficial epithelial cells contain round or oval mucus-secreting goblet cells. This mucus forms the mucin layer of the tear film.
    • Other mucus secreting glands include glands of Manz, and crypts of henle.
  2. Adenoid layer – also called the lymphoid layer, contains lymphoid tissue.
  3. Fibrous layer – consists of a meshwork of collagen and elastic fibres.

The accessory lacrimal glands (glands of Krause and Wolfring), which resemble the lacrimal gland in structure and function, are located in the stroma.

NB: The adenoid (superficial) layer and fibrous (deep) layer form what we call the conjunctival stroma.


Plica semilunaris


Blood supply

Nerve supply