Pinguecula and Pterygia

What is a pinguecula?
A pinguecula is a yellowish patch or bump on the white of the eye, most often found on the side closest to the nose. It is a deposit of protein and fat in the conjuctiva of the eye. It is caused by chronic eye irritation and from exposure to the sunlight.

How is a pinguecula treated?
Although a pinguecula does not grow onto the cornea and cause visual problems, it can cause a foreign body sensation. Treatment includes use of artificial tears and punctal plugs to reduce irritation. If particularly annoying, a pinguecula may be surgically removed.

What is a pterygium?
A pterygium is a fleshy tissue that has grown over the cornea from the conjunctiva. It may remain small or grow large enough to interfere with vision. A pterygium most commonly occurs on the inner corner of the eye, but can appear on the outer corner as well. Pterygium occurs more often in people who spend a great deal of time outdoors, especially in sunny climates. Long-term exposure to sunlight and chronic eye irritation from dry, dusty conditions seems to play an important causal role. Dry eyes may contribute to the progression of a pterygium.

How is a pterygium treated?
When a pterygium becomes red or inflamed, artificial tears or ointment may help the irritation. If the pterygium is causing visual complaints, it can be removed surgically. Despite proper surgical removal, the pterygium may return, particularly in young people who continue to have chronic UV exposure. Protecting the eyes from excessive sunlight with proper sunglasses and avoiding dry, dusty conditions and use of artificial tears may also help.