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Pinguecula: What You Need to Know

A pinguecula is a benign, yellowish patch or bump that forms on the conjunctiva, the clear, thin membrane on that covers the white surface of the eye ball. Pingueculae are thought to be caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet light. Pingueculae most commonly occur in individuals who live in hot, dry, sunny regions who spend a lot of time outdoors. People who spend a lot of time in the sun, such as surfers, skiers and sailors who do not wear protective eyewear are more likely to get pingueculae due to the high levels of reflected UV light bounced off the water or snow. They are also more common in men aged 20-50.

What Is Pinguecula?

A pinguecula is a yellowish patch or bump on the eye’s conjunctiva, consisting of a deposit of protein, fat, or calcium. Pingueculae (the plural form of pinguecula) typically grow near the cornea closest to the nose and resemble something like a callus on your skin. These growths can often be seen without the use of any equipment. Pingueculae do not affect vision but become irritating if they become raised. Rarely, pingueculae can become pterygium. Like a pinguecula, pterygium is a growth on the white part of the eye, but unlike pinguecula, pterygium is a growth of fleshy tissue that can be small or can become large enough to cover part of the cornea. In this case, a pterygium can affect your vision. To diagnose pinguecula, a thorough eye examination is necessary to determine how advanced the growth is and if there are any other issues before going forward with a treatment plan. 

What Are the Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors of Pinguecula?

Symptoms of pinguecula include:

  • A yellow spot or bump on the eye
  • Dry, itchy, burning eyes
  • Feeling like sand or grit is in your eye
  • Redness and swelling of the conjunctiva or surface that covers the white part of the eye
  • Blurry vision

If you have had a pinguecula before, there are things you can avoid to cause future growths, including:

  • Wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect from ultraviolet rays
  • Wearing glasses, goggles or other protective eyewear to protect from dust
  • Using artificial tears to protect from dry eye

The best way to prevent pinguecula is to keep eyes from irritation, sun exposure and dryness as much as possible.

What Are the Medications and Treatments for Pinguecula?

Since pinguecula are benign, they rarely require treatment beyond medicated eye drops. Your eye care professional can prescribe drops to lubricate your eyes and help alleviate the irritation of the pinguecula. Steroid eye drops may be suggested if you have redness and or swelling in the eye. Your eye care associate may also prescribe a mild anti-inflammatory for help with any pain or distress. These treatments can relieve most discomfort so no surgical option is necessary or recommended.  

How Tucker & Associates Can Help 

If you see a yellowish growth in the white part of your eye, feel as though there is grit or sand in your eye and suspect you may have a pinguecula, call the eye care professionals at Tucker & Associates to make an appointment to have your eye checked out. Our competent and knowledgable associates will give you a thorough examination to diagnose your condition and will help devise a treatment plan for your best eye health.

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