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Pinguecula and Pterygium

A Pinguecula is a yellowish, slightly raised area on the white part of your eye (sclera), usually on the side that is closest to your nose, at the edge of the cornea. Pinguecula is more common in people who spend significant amounts of time in the sun, both adults and children.

Pingueculae rarely cause any symptoms, but they may bother how you look. At times, they become irritated or inflamed and may become red or give you the feeling that something is in the eye.  It is most often associated with exposure to sun, wind, dust, or extremely dry conditions.

The treatment for pingueculae depends on the severity of the growth and its symptoms. It is a good idea to wear a hat or sunglasses to protect you from the Sun’s UV rays.  At times, specific medication is needed if that area becomes inflamed or red.  At times, surgery is needed to remove a pinguecula if it interferes with vision, contact lens wear or normal blinking.  A pinguecula can lead to the formation of pterygia.

A pterygium is a wedge of “skin” that crosses over onto the cornea, the clear central part of the eye, and it can interfere with vision.  A pterygium may bother you because it is visible to others.  Ptyrigium rarely causes any symptoms and often does not require treatment. Some pterygia may become red and swollen on occasion, and some may become large or thick. Large and advanced pterygia can cause distortion of vision because it is on the surface of the cornea.

If a pterygium stays small, lubricants and other medication are sufficient.  In some cases, surgery to remove the pterygium is necessary.  Unfortunately, pterygia often return after surgical removal.

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