Pinguecula and pterygium are both growths that form on the eye. While pinguecula is not serious, pterygium can lead to a loss of visual acuity and should not be ignored. What exactly are pinguecula and pterygium? What are the existing treatments? Find out the detailed answers to these questions.

What are pinguecula and pterygium?

Pinguecula and pterygium are both small proliferations on the eye's surface. But while a pinguecula does not usually affect vision, a pterygium is a lesion that may require surgery.

Pinguecula and pterygium usually appear on the sides of the cornea, in the inner or outer corner of the eye. Pinguecula appears as a small white or yellowish bump or spot that does not invade the cornea. Whereas pterygium is a triangular fleshy mass that eventually invades the cornea as it grows. And pterygium can interfere with the quality of vision.

What causes pinguecula and pterygium?

These conjunctival growths develop in people whose eyes have been overexposed to the sun. For example, pterygium is most commonly seen in surfers and fishermen who spend long periods in intense sunlight.

What are the symptoms of pterygium disease?

In its early stages, the pterygium remains inconspicuous and may not be bothersome. As it progresses, it expands into a triangular shape that invades the cornea. Symptoms vary from person to person:

  • A spot in the eye
  • The impression of a foreign body in the eye
  • Irritation that causes redness in the eye
  • Decreased vision

With pinguecula, the lesion is benign and rarely causes symptoms. Irritation to the eye may develop, causing redness. The pinguecula can then be treated for irritation or aesthetic reasons.

What is the treatment for pinguecula and pterygium?

In the case of painful pinguecula, artificial tears, eye drops, or anti-inflammatory eye ointment may be prescribed.

When a pterygium is diagnosed, treatment can be prescribed at first to relieve the symptoms: eye drops, drops or corticoid ointments. However, this treatment of pterygium will be temporary, as no drug treatment will make it regress. This is why it is often advisable to resort to a surgical operation.

If you notice a whitish or yellowish spot in the inner or outer corner of your eye, make an appointment for an exam. It is best to diagnose your eye condition as soon as possible so that you can take the proper steps to preserve your vision.

When to operate on a pterygium?

As long as a pterygium is at an early stage and does not cause functional or aesthetic discomfort, there is no urgent need for surgery. It is when the symptoms affect comfort and vision that surgery becomes necessary. It will reduce irritation and preserve visual acuity.

The operation consists of the removal, under anesthesia, of the ocular lesion. Once the pterygium is completely removed, a conjunctival graft, and sometimes a corneal graft, is used to compensate for the loss of tissue caused by the removal of the lesion.

To prevent the appearance of pinguecula or pterygium, there are simple solutions to adopt. Protect your eyes from sun damage by wearing good quality sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Wearing a hat or cap is also recommended for children and people who spend many hours outdoors.