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What are pinguecula/pterygia?

Pinguecula and pterygia are growths on your eye’s conjunctiva, the clear 

covering over the white part of the eye..  They often appear on the side of the eye near your nose.

Pinguecula are deposits of protein, fat, and calcium, and look like a yellow spot or bump . 

Pterygium are growths of fleshy tissue that may start as a pinguecula. It can remain small or grow large enough to cover part of the cornea.  When this happens, it can affect your vision.


What are the symptoms of pterygia?

 Symptoms of pinguecula /pterygia can range from mild to severe. They include:

  • Redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, mostly while the pterygium grows
  • Dry, itchy, burning eyes. Or feeling like sand or grit is stuck in your eye
  • Blurry vision

What causes piguecula/pterygia?

 Both pinguecula and pterygia are believed to be caused by a combination of dry eyes and exposure to wind, dust, and ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun


What can I do to prevent pinguecula/pterygia?

 To prevent pinguecula/pterygia we focus on the underlying causes:

  • Prevent dry eyes
  • Protect your eyes from UV light by always wearing sunglasses when outside, even on overcast days (The UV rays still reach your eyes on cloudy days)
  • Avoid windy, dusty environments

Find out more about Dry Eye prevention

Treatment Options

Many patients  with pinguecula or pterygia do not need treatment.

However, treatment is initiated when:

  •  patients have symptoms
  • the pinguecula/pterygia are increasing in size

The first line of therapy for pinguecula that are causing symptoms or increasing  in size is the same as the treatment for dry eyes.   If there is redness and/or significant irritation then steroid drops are used temporarily.

For patients who continue to have symptoms despite the above  treatments and for patients for whom the pterygium is increasing in size, surgical removal is recommended. 

The surgery is very simple, safe and effective. 

Learn More About Dry Eye Treatment