The most commonly encountered "bump" on the eye concerning patients is a fleshy-appearing
growth called a pingueculum (pronounced "ping-gwek-u-lum"). They may be
yellow, gray, white, or colorless. They are usually found on the white part
of the eye in the space between the eyelids, almost always on the side closest
to the nose. A pingueculum can be present in both eyes. Pinguecula are more
common in middle-aged or older people, but they can also be found in younger
people and even children.
A pingueculum is a benign yellowish-white lesion that develops on the conjunctiva. It is a slow growth caused by the degeneration of the conjunctiva's collagen fibers. Thicker yellow fibers, or in some cases calcified deposits, eventually replace the fibers. This growth does not affect vision but in rare cases, it can gradually extend over the cornea, forming a pterygium.
Overexposure to elements such as ultraviolet light, wind, dust and toxic vapors causes these small ocular surface growths. Insufficient moisture, dryness and smoky environments exacerbate the condition. Pinguecula can enlarge with chronic exposure to wind or ultraviolet rays.
Signs and Symptoms of Pinguecula
There are often no symptoms of a pingueculum other than cosmetic concerns. In rare cases, the conjunctiva can become red and irritated. In addition, dry eye can cause further irritation, resulting in increased awareness and inflammation.
Most pinguecula grow slowly and almost never cause significant damage, so the prognosis is excellent. Diagnosis should be made by an eye doctor to rule out other more serious disorders.
The naked eye can see a pingueculum. Your eye doctor can diagnose and assess its growth with a careful examination using a slit lamp microscope. Most people with pinguecula do not require treatment unless their symptoms are severe. Lubricating eye drops are normally recommended to relieve irritation and foreign-body sensation. Steroidal eye drops may be prescribed if significant inflammation and swelling are present. Everyone with pinguecula should wear UV-blocking sun protection to help reduce the irritation that contributes to the formation and progression of pinguecula.
Surgical removal of pinguecula is sometimes considered if they are large or result in the inability of contact lens wearers to wear their lenses. Due to its benign nature, a pinguecula rarely requires treatment. If, however, the condition causes irritation and inflammation, artificial tears can provide moisture to the eye, while mild anti-inflammatory medication can reduce swelling. To minimize the severity or cosmetic appearance of the pinguecula, eye care professionals strongly recommend the use of eye drops for lubrication and sunglasses to protect the eyes from wind and ultraviolet rays.
Prevention of Pinguecula
There is nothing that has been clearly shown to prevent this disorder, or to prevent a pingueculum from progressing to a pterygium. However, the presence of pinguecula and pterygia have been linked to exposure to UV radiation. For that reason, UV exposure should be reduced.
Harvard Eye Associates, your first choice for:
Pinguecula Specialists in Laguna Hills, San Clemente, Orange County, Southern California