Common eye conditions


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.

Frequently asked questions

What does an optometrist do?

In NZ an optometrist can calculate the prescription for glasses, fit contact lenses, diagnose and treat eye conditions and infections with medication. They can also manage ocular injuries including removing foreign objects. If surgery or specialist treatment is required they can refer to an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon), hospital, or other health care specialist. NZ-trained optometrists must complete a 5-year degree at the University of Auckland before becoming registered.

What is a dispensing optician (sometimes called a “dispenser”)?

A dispensing optician has formal training in optical dispensing. They are qualified to help a client choose frames, read a prescription, discuss lens options, take measurements, order and fit glasses.

What is an ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has specialised in the treatment of serious eye disease and ocular surgery such as cataract removal. They do not typically prescribe glasses or contact lenses.

What payment options do you have?

While payment is generally required on the day of appointment, we do offer a number of payment options including Afterpay, Genoapay, QCard, and GoCardless.

Are you open on public holidays?

No. We are closed on public holidays and long weekends as we believe our staff should have the chance to enjoy this time with friends and family.

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