Pterygiums and Pinguecula




A pterygium is a triangular shaped, slightly elevated, and often red lesion, which may occur on the surface of the eye, usually on the nasal side of the cornea.




As exposure to the harsh elements of nature can damage the skin, so too can the elements cause damage to the eyes. Pterygiums and pinguecula are benign ocular surface growths caused by wind, dust and ultraviolet light. The thin mucous membrane that coats the exterior of the eyeball is called conjunctiva. Like the skin on your fingertips, conjunctiva can grow callouses in response to the elements.




Pinguecula are conjunctival callouses that grow adjacent to the cornea, usually at 3 or 9 o'clock axis. They usually take open a yellowish color and are composed of thickened conjunctiva, but also contain calcium deposits.




Pterygiums can start out as pinguecula, but can grow as an independent entity as well. Ptergy is latin for "wing." Pterygiums are wing-like growths that extend from conjunctiva and grow onto the cornea in the form of a wing. Pterygiums can cause irregular astigmatism, warping the cornea, or can grow big enough to block light entering the eye.



Pterigyum Removal

Treatment depends on the pterygium's size and the symptoms caused by the pterygium. If a pterygium is small but becomes inflamed, your ophthamologist may prescribe lubricants or possibly a mild steroid eye drop to reduce swelling and redness. In some cases, surgical removal of the pterygium is necessary.

These growths can be prevented by wearing UV blocking sunglasses and using artificial tears for surface dryness. However, once a pterygium or pinguecula is present, it can be removed – they won't go away on their own.

The information on our website is provided for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace a consultation with an eye care professional. The condition of each patient is unique and needs to be evaluated properly before any decision can be taken.


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