Pterygia and pinguecula are two common eye conditions that affect the conjunctiva, which is the clear tissue covering the white part of the eye (sclera) and occasionally the cornea. While they are not usually vision-threatening, they can cause discomfort and irritation.
- Pterygium (plural: pterygia): A pterygium is a growth of tissue that extends from the conjunctiva onto the cornea, which is the clear, front surface of the eye. Pterygia are often triangular in shape and can vary in size. They are associated with prolonged exposure to UV light and environmental irritants like dust, wind, or dry climates. Symptoms may include redness, irritation, and a feeling of a foreign body in the eye. In some cases, pterygia can grow over the cornea and affect vision, requiring surgical removal.
- Pinguecula (plural: pingueculae): A pinguecula is a yellowish, elevated growth on the conjunctiva near the cornea. It is typically caused by exposure to environmental factors, such as UV radiation and dust. Unlike pterygia, pingueculae do not grow onto the cornea. These growths are usually non-cancerous, and they may not cause any symptoms. However, some people may experience irritation, dryness, or redness. Lubricating eye drops or artificial tears can help alleviate these symptoms.
Both pterygia and pingueculae can be managed with the use of sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV radiation and by keeping the eyes well-hydrated to reduce irritation. Microscope photography and corneal topography can be useful to monitor these conditions for progression. Should they cause discomfort, redness, or affect vision, it is advisable to consult one of our team for proper evaluation and potential treatment options, which may include surgery to remove the growths if necessary.