Have you ever noticed a yellowish spot or a clear white film growing on the conjunctiva or the cornea of your eye? You may have pinguecula or pterygium.
Pinguecula (pin-GWEK-yoo-lah): (Not to be confused with Pinguicula, the carnivorous plant known as the butterworts.) Pinguecula is a growth that appears as small yellowish spots located on the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelids and continues to the front of the eye). A pinguecula can result from deposits of protein, fat, and/or calcium.
Pinguecula Treatments: Surgery is not required to treat pinguecula. Proper eye drops can be prescribed by an ophthalmologist, such as those used to relieve dry eye irritation. Steroid eye drops may also be prescribed to alleviate any swelling and redness, which may be causing the pinguecula.
Pterygium (tur-IJ-ee-um): It is also known as surfer’s eye. Pterygium is a mass of tissue that may have started as a pinguecula from the conjunctiva. The tissue is often raised and invades the cornea from the sclera (the white part of the eye), causing vision problems.
Notice in the image above, the mass of tissue grows onto the cornea.
Pterygium treatments: When a pterygium is large enough to cause impaired vision, an ophthalmologist will recommend surgery to remove the tissue mass. Once removed, a thin piece of transplanted tissue will be placed on the affected area to prevent recurrence of the pterygium.
There are three main factors that contribute to the development of pinguecula and pterygium:
Treatment is assessed on a case-by-case basis. It recommended that you visit your ophthalmologist regularly to monitor the pinguecula/pterygium. The best way to prevent growth and/or regrowth is to avoid direct sunlight, dust, and dryness of the eye.
Here are some tips to help prevent pinguecula/pterygium development:
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