What is a pterygium and pingueculum?
- A pterygium (te-RIH-jee-um, plural pterygia) is a pinkish, triangular growth of tissue on the conjunctiva of the eye (the thin membrane that covers the white part of the eye), extending onto the cornea (the clear part of the eye).
- A pingueculum (pin-GWEK-yoo-luhm, plural pinguecula) is an alteration of tissue resulting in a yellowish, raised deposit of protein and fat in the conjunctiva.
- Both pterygia and pinguecula are believed to be caused by a combination of exposure to wind, dust, and UV light from the sun. Both conditions can cause the affected eye to become dry and sore, and a pterygium may impair vision as it grows onto the cornea and obscures the line of sight.
How can pterygia and pinguecula be treated?
- Steroid eye drops may be prescribed by your doctor to reduce redness and irritation.
- If a pterygium grows enough to cover part of the cornea, surgical removal may be indicated.
How can you treat pterygia and pinguecula at home?
- Over the counter artificial tear drops may also be used to keep the eyes lubricated.
- Limit prolonged exposure to wind, sand, dirt, dust, and sunlight. It is always recommended to wear protective glasses and/or UV blocking sunglasses in these conditions.
When should you call for help?
- If your eyes continue to be red and irritated after a week of treatment
- If a pterygium grows larger or affects your vision
Below is a picture of a pterygium on a patient’s right eye toward the nose. Some may be very obvious like this one, or more subtle. All may cause symptoms of redness and discomfort.