Pterygium & Pinguecula2021-12-16T13:53:51+00:00

Pterygium and a pinguecula are abnormal growths that form on the surface of the eye

We can safely manage these conditions with eye drops or treat with surgery

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Pterygium and a pinguecula are abnormal growths that form on the surface of the eye

We can safely manage these conditions with eye drops or treat with surgery

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Discover more about this condition and how to treat it

Both a pterygium and a pinguecula are abnormal growths that form on the surface of the eye. While they may appear similar and have similar symptoms and causes, they are different conditions.

Pinguecula
Pinguecula

Pterygium
Pterygium

Pterygium

A pterygium (plural pterygia) is a wedge-shaped growth of abnormal tissue that forms on the eye. While benign (non-cancerous) and relatively harmless, they extend onto the cornea (the clear front window of the eye), where they may affect vision.

Pinguecula

A pinguecula (plural pinguecula) is very similar to a pterygium. The two are often confused. However, a pinguecula occurs only on the conjunctiva (the thin, protective membrane that covers the eye’s surface). It will not grow across the cornea.

Pterygium symptoms

  • A pterygium looks like a fleshy, pink growth on the white of the eye. It can occur in one or both eyes. They often develop in the corner of the eye, close to the nose, and extend onto the cornea.
  • Many people with a pterygium feel as if there is something in their eye. Symptoms also include dry eyes, irritation, inflammation and redness. They can also make it more difficult or uncomfortable to wear contact lenses.
  • If the pterygium extends onto the cornea far enough, it can alter the curvature of the cornea and obscure the vision.

Pinguecula symptoms

  • A pinguecula has very similar symptoms to a pterygium. It usually appears as a creamy-coloured or chalky growth on the white of the eye. A pinguecula will also normally occur in the corner of the eye, near the nose. It can affect one eye or both.
  • Just like a pterygium, a pinguecula can irritate the eye and make it difficult to wear contact lenses. However, a pinguecula cannot grow across the cornea, and therefore will not affect vision. In some cases, a pinguecula can become a pterygium if it grows across the cornea.

Causes of pterygium

The main cause of pterygium is often lifetime sun exposure – UV light.

People who live in hot, dry, sunny regions and spend a lot of time outdoors have a higher chance of developing a pterygium than others. The risk is also increased by not wearing sunglasses or a sun hat.

Sportspeople such as sailors, surfers and skiers also have a high incidence because of the high levels of reflected UV light they encounter.

Pterygia are also more common in areas where there is ozone layer depletion, such as New Zealand.

Pterygia usually occurs in people aged 20 to 50 and is more common in men, probably due to an increased likelihood of outdoor work environments.

Causes of pinguecula

Just like pterygia, pinguecula generally occur between the ages of 20 and 50. They are also thought to be caused by environmental factors, such as climate, dust and UV light.

Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will look at your eyes with a special microscope called a slit lamp. They will measure the abnormal growth so they can monitor any changes over time.

There are a number of different treatments for a pterygium or pinguecula.

Normally, pterygium surgery will only be undertaken if the pterygium has troublesome symptoms or is affecting vision. Otherwise, management with eye drops is often effective.

Pinguecula are rarely surgically removed and are usually treated with eye drops. However, if the pinguecula turns into a pterygium, surgery may be the best course.

Treatments

If we surgically remove a pterygium, we will need to perform a conjunctival grafting afterwards.

Is pterygium or pinguecula a form of cancer?

Pterygium and pinguecula are non-cancerous. They are related to UV damage to the surface tissue of the eye.

Can it return once it is removed?

Yes, but special surgical techniques can reduce recurrence.

Does a pterygium or pinguecula hurt?

Sometimes a pterygium or pinguecula can stop the tears from spreading evenly across your eye, causing a gritty or burning feeling.

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Gain relief from a worrying eye condition

We understand that any issue with your eyes can be a weight on your shoulders. Give us a call to book your appointment today, and we’ll help you get to the bottom of your issue and put your mind at ease.

CALL US ON: 0800 99 2020
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Pinguecula and pterygium are growths on your eye’s conjunctiva, the clear covering over the white part of the eye.

Pinguecula is a yellowish, raised growth on the conjunctiva. It’s usually on the side of the eye near your nose, but can happen on the other side too. A pinguecula is a deposit of protein, fat, or calcium.

Pterygium is a growth of fleshy tissue (has blood vessels) that may start as a pinguecula. It can remain small or grow large enough to cover part of the cornea. When this happens, it can affect your vision.

Click here to read more. 

Symptoms

  • Usually asymptomatic
  • Possible mild foreign body sensation and redness when inflamed
  • Occasional cosmetic concern

Click here to read more. 

Pingueculae and pterygia are benign growths that appear on the eye’s conjunctiva, the clear covering over the white part of your eye.

Click here to read more. 

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