Pinguecula are growths that develop on the conjunctiva. The growths are usually yellow and tend to develop on the side of the eye closest to the nose.
The conjunctiva is a transparent membrane that covers the white of the eye.
Pinguecula consists of protein, fat, and calcium. It may be small and barely noticeable, or it may be large enough to cause discomfort.
This article outlines the causes and symptoms of pinguecula. Also discussed are some ways to treat and prevent pinguecula.
People who are frequently exposed to the sun’s UV rays are more likely to develop pinguecula. In fact, according to one 2019 review, pingueculae are more common in people who live near the equator, where sunlight is strongest.
Exposure to drought, dust, and high winds can also increase a person’s risk of developing pinguecula.
According to a 2019 study, wearing soft contact lenses does not increase a person’s risk of developing pinguecula.
The main symptom of a pinguecula is a yellow spot or bump on the white of one or both eyes. The spots may be round or triangular.
Most people who develop pinguecula experience only mild symptoms. In some cases, a person may experience the following symptoms in one or both eyes:
- redness and swelling
- a feeling of grit or sand in the eye
- blurred vision
According to one 2017 review, pingueculae do not grow on the cornea of the eye. This means that there is little risk of pinguecula interfering with one’s vision.
If a person notices any changes in their eyes, they should make an appointment with a doctor. The doctor can then refer the person to a specialist eye doctor, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
The ophthalmologist may examine the eye under a special light using a magnifying lens. This procedure is often sufficient to enable them to identify and diagnose a pinguecula.
If a pinguecula is causing symptoms, they will recommend some appropriate treatments to help the person deal with the discomfort.
Pinguecula usually does not require treatment. However, if the growth is causing bothersome symptoms, a person can try over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications.
Surgery is usually reserved for pingueculae that cause severe eye irritation and those that cause cosmetic problems.
The sections below will describe these pingueculae treatment options in more detail.
OTC eye drops can be helpful for symptoms like dryness, burning, and itching. Some drops are labeled as “artificial tears” and work like natural tears to help lubricate the eyes.
Many artificial tears contain preservatives. This can cause eye irritation in some people. If a person has eye irritation, they should consider using preservative-free drops which are available in single-use vials.
Eye ointments are also available. These tend to stay in the eye longer than artificial tears. Because of this, they may be suitable for more severe cases of dryness and discomfort.
People should tell their eye doctor about the eye drops they are using.
If OTC eye drops and ointments don’t relieve pinguecula symptoms, your doctor may recommend trying prescription eye drops.
Eye drops containing steroids can help with swelling and inflammation. They can also help relieve an unpleasant sensation of grit or grit in the eyes.
Surgery may be an option for people who find no symptom relief from OTC or prescription treatments. Others may choose to have their pinguecula removed for cosmetic reasons.
During the procedure, the surgeon will remove the pinguecula. They will then use a special glue to transfer a piece of healthy conjunctiva to the area where the pinguecula was removed.
One 2019 study found that surgery combined with grafting of healthy conjunctival tissue can remove the pinguecula and relieve associated dry eye symptoms.