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(Pingueculitis)

Definition

A pinguecula is a yellowish, raised growth on the clear covering over the white part of the eye. It is a deposit of protein, fat, or calcium.

Causes

Pingueculae are thought to be caused by irritants, such as:

  • Wind
  • Dust
  • Exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning machines

Risk Factors

Pingueculae are more common in men. They are also more common in people who live close to the equator or spend a lot of time in the sun.

Symptoms

Most people do not have symptoms. People who do may have an eye that:

  • Feels like something is in it
  • Is watery
  • Burns
  • Itches

A pinguecula that is inflamed is known as pingueculitis.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the eyes. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Treatment

A pinguecula that is not causing problems does not need to be treated.

Those who do have symptoms may be given artificial tears or corticosteroid drops or ointment to ease irritation. It may also be removed in people who do have symptoms or those who do not like the way that it looks. This can be done with eye surgery.

Prevention

Wearing sunglasses with UV protection can help prevent pingueculae.

RESOURCES

American Academy of Ophthalmology  http://www.aao.org 

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians  http://www.familydoctor.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Ophthalmological Society  https://www.cos-sco.ca 

Health Canada  http://www.canada.ca 

References

Hacıoğlu D, Erdöl H. Developments and current approaches in the treatment of pterygium. Int Ophthalmol. 2017 Aug;37(4):1073-1081.

Pinguecula. EyeWiki—American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://eyewiki.org/Pinguecula. Published August 25, 2019. Accessed November 26, 2019.

Pinguecula and pterygium. Merck Manual—Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/eye-disorders/conjunctival-and-scleral-disorders/pinguecula-and-pterygium. Published October 2019. Accessed November 26, 2019.

Pterygium. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pterygium . Updated December 5, 2017. Accessed November 26, 2019.

Six things to know about pinguecula and pterygium. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/six-things-to-know-about-pinguecula-pterygium. Updated July 28, 2016. Accessed November 26, 2019.

What is a pinguecula and a pterygium (surfer’s eye)? American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/pinguecula-pterygium. Published August 29, 2019. Accessed November 26, 2019.

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