Pingueculum and Pterygium
What is a pingueculum?
A pingueculum is a growth on the conjunctiva (the thin mucus membrane that coats the outside of the eyeball). The growth looks like a thickened area of tissue and is often cream-colored. It may contain yellow fibers and clear crystals. Usually it grows from the corner of your eye and stops before reaching the cornea (the clear, outer layer of your eye that covers the iris and pupil).
What is a pterygium?
A pterygium is similar to a pingueculum. It is a wing-shaped growth on the conjunctiva that starts in the corner of your eye, but extends onto the cornea.
How do these growths occur?
These growths may be caused by exposing your eye to:
- damaging chemicals
- ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun.
If your eyes are often exposed to harsh conditions, these growths are more likely to develop.
What are the symptoms?
Most commonly there are no symptoms. If you do have symptoms they may include:
- a dry or gritty feeling
- itching or burning
- blurred vision.
How are they treated?
If these growths do not cause any problems, they do not need to be treated. If they cause redness or irritation, you can use eyedrops called artificial tears. You can buy these products without a prescription. If you have symptoms that continue or get worse, or if your vision becomes blurred, see your health care provider. You may need other medicine.
A pterygium may grow and cause vision problems. It can begin to block light entering your eye. Also, a growing pterygium can change the shape of your cornea and cause blurred and distorted vision.
A pterygium that causes vision problems can be removed during simple surgery. You will be given a local anesthetic to numb your eye. It takes only a few minutes to remove the growth. This surgery is usually successful. However, you may develop another pterygium later. Some surgeons apply medicine to the eye during surgery to help lower the risk of recurrence.
You may have a little discomfort during the first day after surgery, but wearing a patch over your eye and using drops and ointment should help you heal quickly.
Any surgery has some risks, including bleeding, infection, and scarring, but these are uncommon with pterygium surgery.
Normally, a pingueculum does not need to be removed. However, if you are concerned about the way the growth looks or feels, see your health care provider.
How can they be prevented?
They can often be prevented by:
- wearing UV-blocking sunglasses outdoors
- wearing safety glasses or goggles when you are exposed to harsh chemicals or dust
- using eyedrops to treat dryness in your eyes
If you would like evaluated for this condition, don?t hesitate to call Brent Bellotte MD at West Boca Eye Center. 561.488.100