Northside Health Library


Pinguecula

Definition

A pinguecula is a common, non-cancerous growth of the clear, thin tissue (conjunctiva) that lays over the white part of the eye (sclera).

Causes

The cause is unknown, but long-term sunlight exposure and eye irritation may contribute to its development. Welding is a major job-related risk.

Symptoms

A pinguecula is a small, yellowish nodule on the conjunctiva near the cornea. It can appear on either side of the cornea, but tends to appear more on the nose (nasal) side. It may increase in size over many years.

Exams and Tests

An eye examination is often enough to diagnose this disorder.

Treatment

Usually no treatment is needed. Lubrication with artificial tears, and sometimes the temporary use of mild steroid eye drops can be helpful. Rarely, the growth may need to be removed if you have discomfort or for cosmetic reasons.

Outlook (Prognosis)

This condition is non-cancerous (benign) and the outlook is good.

Possible Complications

The pingeucula may grow over the cornea and impair vision.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if the size, shape, or color of a pinguecula changes.

Prevention

It is not known whether this condition can be prevented. It may help to wear good quality sunglasses and avoid eye irritants.

References

Farjo QA, Sugar A. Pterygium and conjunctival degenerations. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 4.9


Review Date: 11/8/2010
Reviewed By: Daniel E. Bustos, MD, MS, Private Practice specializing in Comprehensive Ophthalmology in Eugene, OR. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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