Pterygium and pinguecula

What is pterygium and pinguecula?

Pterygium and pinguecula are two abnormal bumps in the conjunctiva of the eye.

  • The pterygium appears as fleshy tissue on the cornea, its size may vary
  • The pinguecula sprouts as a yellowish bump on the white of the eye.


These conditions are not cancerous (benign) and have a good prognosis with treatment.

Symptoms of pterygium and pinguecula:

In many cases, the pinguecula does not produce symptoms but other times it can become acutely inflamed and result in pingueculitis, which causes red eye and discomfort.

The pterygium in its initial stages is also usually asymptomatic, but when it develops it usually causes eye discomfort and occasional redness. In addition, growing on the cornea can modify its curvature, producing visual alterations, or if it reaches the visual axis, vision is reduced significantly.

Medical tests for pterygium and pinguecula:

An ophthalmological examination of the ocular surface is enough to identify a pterygium or pinguecula. Rarely is it necessary to biopsy the problem and analyse it under a microscope to distinguish it from other potentially malignant conjunctival lesions.

What causes pterygium and pinguecula?

Pterygium and pinguecula often develop from excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays. It is also more frequent in patients exposed to irritants such as dust and sawdust. Other factors involved are chronic dry eyes and aging.

Can pterygium and pinguecula be prevented?

Pterygium and pinguecula are more common in tropical countries and especially in mountainous areas. This is because the most common cause of these bumps is life-long exposure to UV light, hence sunglasses or even wearing a hat are helpful in preventing them.

Treatments for pterygium and pinguecula:

Pterygium : its treatment can range from the application of drops to surgery. Several strategies can be combined according to their severity. A clean surgery might be needed to completely remove the affected tissues. The eye surface is then reconstructed by transplantation (often from the conjunctiva itself). It is an outpatient, painless surgery under local anaesthesia.

The pinguecula does not grow on the cornea, so no specific treatment is usually required unless it is frequently inflamed or because of cosmetic reasons, in which case it would be necessary to remove it with surgery.

Which specialist treats pterygium and pinguecula?

Ophthalmologists are in charge of preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases that affect the patient's eyes and visual capacity, such as pterygium and pinguecula.

The eyes are the essential organ of vision and are susceptible to many abnormalities throughout life. Ophthalmology is responsible for preserving the patient's visual capacity, through medical treatment techniques, surgery or with the help of external elements such as glasses or contact lenses.

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