The white part of the eye surrounding the cornea and pupil can develop elastic degradation resulting in patches of fat and protein on the eye. Depending on the location of these degradations, we call them pinguecula or pterygia.
What is a Pingueculum?
A pingueculum appears as a yellow-orange bumpy spot on the white of the eye. Pinguecula can be located in any area around the cornea but primarily on the nasal side. In contradistinction to a pterygium, a pingueculum usually does not spread to the cornea, but it can be a source of irritation.
What is a Pterygium?
A pterygium appears as fleshy material that spreads over the cornea. If pterygia are small they may be symptomless. If they become large and hardened (calcified), pterygia can result in irritation, eye redness and even affect vision.
Just like pinguecula, pterygia can be located in any area around the cornea but primarily on the side closest to the nose.
Causes of Pinguecula and Pterygia
The precise mechanism for how pinguecula and pterygia form is not understood, although some risk factors have been identified.
Pinguecula and pterygia develop more frequently with patients who enjoy outdoor activities particularly if they reside in sunlit environments. It is thought that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, as well to dusty arid surroundings, contributes to pinguecula and pterygia formation. It is suggested that proper UV protective eyewear with eye lubrication and hygiene be observed for individuals who frequent the outdoors.
When pinguecula and pterygia become symptomatic, topical eye drops or gels are recommended. They may, however be stubborn and in advanced cases surgical removal is necessary.
One very curious feature of pterygia it that they have a tendency to recur, especially in younger patients despite seemingly successful initial surgical removal and care.
For more information on pinguecula and ptergia, or any other eye conditions, Westchester eye surgery Chicago can help.
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