5 Things You Need To Know About Pinguecula

A pinguecula is a growth on the surface of your eye, more specifically, the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the membrane that protects the white part of your eye. Here's what you need to know about this uncomfortable eye condition.

What does a pinguecula look like?

A pinguecula is a yellow bump on the surface of your eye, often on the side of your eye that's closest to your nose. This bump may be triangular or it may have a rounded appearance.

What causes this growth?

The conjunctiva, the outer membrane of your eye, is responsible for protecting your eye, and it takes a lot of abuse from the elements. The sun's harmful rays can damage your conjunctiva, as can strong winds, or dust and other debris. Over time, this damage causes a pinguecula to form. These growths are made of protein, and are sort of like the calluses that you get on your hands and feet.

Wearing sunglasses when you go outside can help protect your conjunctiva from the sun and the wind. In very dusty environments, choose goggles, instead.

Is a pinguecula painful?

A pinguecula isn't usually painful, but it can cause some discomfort. You may feel like you have a foreign object in your eye, but other people feel nothing at all. The growth can make it harder for your tears to lubricate the entire surface of your eye, so you may have dry eyes. The pinguecula can sometimes become red and irritated from contact with your eyelids.

Can a pinguecula harm your vision?

A pinguecula won't harm your vision, but it can be an early warning sign of something that can: a pterygium. A pterygium is a very similar condition; it's a growth on your eye that forms on the white of your eye and then grows across your cornea, blocking your pupil. If you are diagnosed with a pinguecula, your optometrist will want to monitor your eyes for signs of pterygiums.  

Since a pinguecula isn't harmful, your optometrist will probably recommend leaving it alone. It's possible to surgically remove them, but eye surgery is obviously more risky than a pinguecula and is saved for a last resort.

How common is this condition?

Pinguecula is very common. Studies have shown that more than 50% of adults have them. It is more common in men than in women, and more common among older people than in younger people. It's also more common among people who work outdoors or among other people who are frequently outside, such as surfers.

A pinguecula is a growth on the surface of your eye, and it's very common. If you notice a yellow bump on your eye, it may be a pinguecula. Make an appointment with your optometrist like one from Anderson Family Vision Care to confirm your suspicions.