A pinguecula is a common, non-cancerous growth of the clear, thin tissue (conjunctiva). The growth is raised slightly from the surface of the white part of the eye (sclera).
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The exact cause is unknown. Long-term sunlight exposure and eye irritation may be factors. Welding is a major job-related risk.
A pingueculum is a small, yellowish bump on the conjunctiva near the cornea. It can appear on either side of the cornea, but occurs more often on the nose (nasal) side. The growth may increase in size over many years.
Signs and tests
An eye exam is often enough to diagnose this disorder.
Usually no treatment is needed. Keeping the eye moist with artificial tears may help prevent the area from becoming inflamed. Temporary use of mild steroid eye drops can also be helpful. Rarely, the growth may need to be removed for comfort or for cosmetic reasons.
This condition is non-cancerous (benign) and the outlook is good.
The pingeucula may grow over the cornea and impair vision. When this happens, the growth is called a pterygium. These two conditions occur under similar conditions but doctors think they are separate diseases.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if the pinguecula changes in size, shape, or color.
Things you can do that may help prevent a pingueculum or keep the problem from getting worse include:
- Keeping the eye well lubricated
- Wearing good quality sunglasses
- Avoiding eye irritants
Farjo QA, Sugar A. Pterygium and conjunctival degenerations. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 4.9
Zloty P, Belin MW. Pterygium. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds.Duane’s Ophthalmology. 2012 ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:vol 6; chap 35.
Last reviewed 11/20/2012 by Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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