Ever wonder what that jelly bump / nodule is on the whites of your eyes? It is clear or yellowish in color and raised in appearance. This is called a pinguecula and is a non-cancerous growth on the conjunctiva. It can develop on either side of the cornea, usually the nasal corner.
Pinguecula is very common in middle-aged adults, especially for those who spend a lot of time in the sun. In fact, most adults have some varying degree of it. Pinguecula is extremely prevalent in areas with tropical climates since it has a direct correlation with uv exposure.
Though some consider it unattractive, a pinguecula itself is not harmful to the eye or vision. However, the tissue in that area is uneven and thus results in abnormal tear surfacing and can cause dry eyes. It can also cause contact lens intolerance since the elevated tissue can reposition the edge of the contact lens. Sometimes the area can become inflamed and red, known as a pingueculitis. Treatment includes artificial tears, and if the inflammation is severe, a steroid eye drop can be prescribed.
There is no cure for pinguecula. Artificial tears help lubricate the eye if dry eye is a secondary symptom of a pinguecula. Sunglasses are advised at all times to help prevent further growth. If cosmetics is a concern, surgery can be performed to remove this tissue growth.
A pterygium is similar to a pinguecula in almost every way, except it is a wedge shaped growth of conjunctival tissue that invades the cornea. A pterygium has the same cause and similar symptoms as a pinguecula, except that is a lot more noticeable cosmetically. In severe cases, the pterygium can grow into the line of sight and impair vision. Surgery is recommended to remove the growth. However, patients are advised that it may grow back even if proper precautions are taken such as wearing sunglasses and using artificial tears.
If you are concerned about the health of your eyes, visit your eye care provider and they can help recommend various treatments to help you maintain a healthy eye.
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