Pinguecula and pterygia are lesions of the eye that can cause the sensation of having something in your eye, with the eyes becoming red and inflamed from time to time. Dr. Nemi at Lotus Vision is a board-certified, fellowship-trained eye surgeon serving Alpharetta and Atlanta, Georgia. If you are suffering from pinguecula and pterygium, he can recommend the best treatment option for you.
What Is a Pinguecula?
Pingueculae are lesions that form on the surface of the sclera (the white part of the eye), near the edge of the cornea (the transparent layer at the front of the eye). They are slightly raised, yellowish in color, and typically form in the open space between the eyelids – the area exposed to the sun. Although these lesions are most commonly found in older or middle-aged adults who spend a lot of time in the sun, they may also be found in younger adults or children who spend time in the sun without the protection of a hat or sunglasses.
What Is a Pterygium?
A pterygium is growth on the conjunctiva (the surface of the sclera, or white of the eye). These benign, wedge-shaped lesions extend onto the cornea and may develop on either side. A major contributing factor to pterygia is prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays.
Like sun damage to the skin, pterygia can take many years of cumulative sun exposure to develop. They are most commonly found in people who live in tropical or southern climates.
What are the Symptoms of Pinguecula and Pterygium?
In many cases, people experience no symptoms with a pinguecula or pterygium, and immediate treatment is not required. However, they can become red and inflamed, and large, thick lesions can produce the persistent sensation of a foreign body in the eye. A pterygium can begin to affect the curvature of the cornea as it develops, which can lead to blurry vision.
Dr. Nemi will individually-tailor treatment for a pinguecula, depending on the severity of the symptoms. For a mild condition, he may prescribe lubricating drops to relieve the foreign-body sensation and dry eye irritation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or steroid eye drops many be needed to treat significant swelling and inflammation.
In severe cases, it may be necessary to surgically remove a pinguecula. Surgery may be recommended when the lesion interferes with vision, blinking, or wearing contact lenses. Surgical removal of a pinguecula may also help prevent the formation of pterygia.
Treatment for pterygia depends on size, extent, and recurrent inflammation. It may involve mild steroid eye drops to be used during flare-ups. Surgical removal may be recommended if:
- Pterygium is growing into the cornea far enough to affect the line of vision
- You are experiencing the persistent sensation of a foreign body in the eye
- Pterygium is chronically inflamed and irritating
- Pterygium is pulling on the cornea and causing astigmatism (changing the refractive properties of the eye)