A pterygium and pinguecula are both benign growths that commonly develop on the conjunctiva (the thin membrane that covers the white of the eye). Both conditions are not cancer and are believed to result from significant sunlight exposure over one’s lifetime.
A pterygium (also called “surfer’s eye” or “farmer’s eye”) is a wedge-shaped section of conjunctiva that can extend from the white of the eye onto the cornea. If this happens, your vision may become obstructed. A pinguecula is the same lesion but it does not extend onto the cornea. This lesion is noted as a yellow spot or bump on the white of the eye. Pingueculae and pterygia most often develop on the side of the eye closest to the nose. Over time, a pinguecula can grow and extend onto the cornea, at which point it is called a pterygium.
If you have a pterygium or pinguecula, your symptoms can range from mild to severe. The most common symptoms include:
- Redness and inflammation
- Blurry vision
- Dry, itchy, and/or burning sensations
- Gritty feeling
- Feeling like a foreign object is in the eye
Treatment for a Pterygium or Pinguecula
Your doctor may recommend artificial tears, steroid eye drops, or ointments to improve your symptoms. If the pterygium or pinguecula is large, uncomfortable, or affecting your vision or cosmetic appearance, then you may consider surgery to have the lesion removed.
Can the disease recur?
Both pterygium and pingueculae can recur after surgical removal. To help prevent them from recurring, you should limit exposure to irritating environmental elements. This may entail wearing sunglasses to shield against ultraviolet light, protection from dry and dusty settings, and using artificial tears when your eyes are dry.