Pinguecula Eye Growth
A pinguecula is a fairly common, non-cancerous, yellowish-tinted nodular growth that grows on the conjunctiva (clear white tissue covering the white of the eye) of the eye. It grows within the palpebral fissure (the part of the conjunctiva that is exposed when the eye is open) and it grows directly adjacent to the cornea usually on the nasal side of the cornea but a pinguecula can also be located temporal to the cornea.
Causes of a Pinguecula
The cause is not completely known but it is directly correlated with chronic sun exposure (ultraviolet radiation) and therefore more prevalent in tropical climates. It has also been associated with frequent, persistent ocular irritation such as dusty or windy environments or occupational irritants such as welding.
A pinguecula is thought to be due to degeneration or degradation of the collagen fibers in the conjunctiva. The conjunctival degeneration creates deposits and swelling of the tissue that would normally be flat.
Pingueculae are more common in people middle-aged or older but they could show up earlier if a person is in the sun very frequently. A pinguecula may progress over time and grow larger especially if sun protection is not used.
Signs and Symptoms of a Pinguecula
Other than the visible yellowish nodule that appears on the eye, pingueculae typically do not cause any symptoms. However, if they become large enough they will interfere with tear distribution and cause the eye to become dry, irritated and red. This condition is known as Pingueculitis. A pinguecula can also make it more difficult to wear contact lenses due to dryness and irritation from the elevation of the contact lens edge over the pinguecula.
A pinguecula is entirely different than a pterygium, which has more serious potential complications and can potentially cause vision loss if not treated properly.
A pinguecula is a benign condition and therefore requires no treatment unless the eye becomes inflamed into pingueculitis. Over the counter artificial tears are used as needed for dry eyes and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory or corticosteroid eye drops may be prescribed for pingueculitis. This is only a short term treatment to reduce the inflammation, which may return in the future. The steroid eye drops do not make the pinguecula go away. If it is a major cosmetic concern or if it causes discomfort or interferes with blinking the pinguecula may be surgically removed. Surgery is only done in severe cases and there is a high rate of reoccurrences after pinguecula surgery.
It is important to notify your eye doctor if you see any change in size, shape or color of your pinguecula.