Pterygium and Pinguecula

What is Pterygium?

Pterygium is fleshy tissue that grows over the corneas (the clear front window of the eye). It may remain small, or grow large enough to interfere with vision. A Pterygium most commonly occurs on the inner corner of the eye, but can appear on the outer corner as well.

What causes Pterygium?

The exact cause is not well understood. Pterygium occurs more often in people who spend a great deal of time out-doors, especially in sunny climates. Long-term exposure to sunlight, especially ultraviolet (UV) rays, and chronic eye irritation from dry, dusty conditions seem to play an important causal role. A dry eye contributes to Pterygium.

How is Pterygium treated?

When a Pterygium becomes red and irritated, eye drops or ointments may be used to help reduce the inflammation. If the Pterygium is large enough to threaten sight, grows or is unsightly, it can be removed surgically.

Despite proper surgical removal, the Pterygium may return, particularly in young people. Surface radiation or medications are sometimes used to help prevent recurrences.

Protecting the eyes from excessive ultra-violet light with proper sunglasses, avoiding dry, dusty conditions, and use of artificial tears may also help.

What is Pinguecula?

A pinguecula is a yellowish patch or bump on the white of the eye, most often on the side closest to the nose. It is not a tumor, but an alteration of normal tissue resulting in a deposit of protein and fat. Unlike a pterygium, a pinguecula does not actually grow on the cornea. A pinguecula may also be a response to chronic eye irritation or sunlight.

How is Pinguecula treated?

No treatment is necessary unless it becomes inflamed. A pinguecula does not grow onto the cornea or threaten sight. If particularly annoying, a pinguecula may on rare occasions be surgically removed, but the postoperative scar may be as cosmetically objectionable as the pinguecula.

Why are regular medical eye examinations important for everyone?

Eye disease can occur at any age. Many eye diseases do not cause symptoms until the disease has done damage. Since most blindness is preventable if diagnosed and treated early, regular eye examinations by your doctor at Quigley Eye Specialists are very important.


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