Pterygium and Pingueculum

A pterygium is a scar-like growth that develops on the conjunctiva and grown onto the surface of the cornea (usually at the three o’clock and nine o’clock positions).  Small pterygium can cause mild symptoms of eye dryness and foreign body sensation. If the pterygium grows large enough to cover the visual axis of the cornea, visual acuity can be affected.

In contrast to a pterygia, pinguecula do not spread onto the corneal surface. Pinguecula appear as yellowish tissue deposits on the conjunctiva, near the three and nine-o’clock margins of the cornea.  Similar to ptergiua, pinguecula can cause dry eye symptoms and foreign body sensation.

Both conditions are due to ultraviolet exposure (sun) and are associated with prolonged exposure to harsh environments (wind, salt water).  The mainstay of treatment includes lubrication with artificial tears, gels or ointments. If symptoms are recurrent, poorly controlled or interfere with vision, the growth can be surgically removed. Prevention of these conditions is linked the use of UV-blocking sunglasses.