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What Are Pinguecula?

A pingueculum (pinguecula for plural) is a relatively common benign growth on the part of the sclera that is visible when the patient has open eyes. That is, pinguecula appear on the tissue that covers the white of the eyes. These growths more frequently affect the part of the eye close to the nose than the part of the eye close to the ear. Most cases of pinguecula occur in the over-40 population, though younger people can get them as well. Overexposure to the sun is believed to be the most common cause of these eye growths, with frequent contact with dust and wind following closely along.

Though pinguecula can certainly be very uncomfortable in some cases, it is important to realize that they are benign, non-cancerous growths that will not interfere with your vision.

 

(Note: though pinguecula absolutely affect a person’s quality of life, they do not cover the part of the eye with which you perceive images. Such growths are called pterygia.)

What Are The Symptoms Of Pinguecula?

Essentially a “bump” on the outer surface of the eyeball, most people who have pinguecula do not, in fact, experience any physical symptoms whatsoever, though they may be able to see a yellow to white growth on the eye.

Some patients, however, will experience stinging, itching, pain, and blurred vision — they’ll have the feeling that something, like an eyelash or a small fly, is constantly stuck in their eye. The feeling will persist despite eye-rubbing, crying, or using eye drops. Due to constant eye-rubbing, you are also rather certain to end up with red and swollen eyes.

I Have Pinguecula: What Now?

If you’re at the stage where you constantly feel there is something in your eye, yet have not been diagnosed yet, the best course of action is to seek timely medical help from an ophtalmologist. A simple physical exam of your eye is usually sufficient to diagnose pinguecula, after which you can discuss treatment options with your eye doctor.

If you have already been diagnosed with a pingueculum, you may be surprised to have heard that conservative management is usually recommended, rather than more invasive treatmeht. This condition is benign, and can frequently improve with time as long as you follow a few simple steps. Artificial tears are used to keep the surface of the eye moist at all times, reducing irritation and inflammation. Steroidal eye drops can be used to minimize pre-existing inflammation.

Because UV rays play a very significant role in the development and growth of pinguecula alike (indeed why your eyes will be sensitive to light when you do have pinguecula), your doctor will advise you to wear sunglasses when you go outside. If you suspect pinguecula and are yet to see your eye doctor, taking the same precaution measure will certainly not cause you any harm.

In rare cases, when the growth is large, causes severe discomfort, or disrupts your visual appearance, surgery may be an option to treat pinguecula as well.

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