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What Is a Pinguecula?

Wearing sunglasses can help prevent pinguecula.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2014
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Pingueculae are growths that occur on the lining covering the white part of the eye. They are not cancerous growths and they usually don’t affect the way people see because they don’t cover or grow over the cornea. Normally, they’re visible as somewhat elevated spots that may be white or yellow, that occur near the eye corners. People may have only one pinguecula, or they could have more than one, and most commonly, they occur in people who are older; they may also occur in younger people who have plenty of sun exposure to the eyes.

Sun exposure does seem to be one of the reasons why a pinguecula would develop. There’s a strong link between these spots developing and sun exposure in the Southern hemisphere. Another group that seems at risk for getting a pinguecula are those who spend a lot of time outdoors, especially outdoor workers. With this in mind, eye protection via good sunglasses, is probably the best means of prevention for most people.

The primary symptoms of a pinguecula are a white or yellow raised spot at the corner of the eye. Depending on the degree to which this elevated, it may cause eye irritation. Dry eye may be especially common, and visible blood vessels (red eye) may appear near the spot.

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Treatment can vary but might include lubricating eye drops to help with any dry eye symptoms. Avoiding sun exposure to the eyes is also important. Sometimes people feel that a pinguecula is damaging from a cosmetic viewpoint and ask eye surgeons to remove it. Removal may leave scarring and results aren’t always desirable, but a skilled surgeon may be able to remove a small pinguecula and leave little scarring behind. Unfortunately, these spots have a tendency to recur and this should be taken into consideration before undergoing surgery.

Pingueculae are often confused with pytergia (pytergium is the singular form). This is a growth on the eye that may begin at the conjunctiva but can gradually cross over the cornea. Unlike a pinguecula, a pytergium is a fast growth that can get bigger over time. A pytergium is also more severe because it can obstruct sight when it grows onto the cornea. This growth is usually more noticeable, and may require surgical removal, not for cosmetic purposes but to preserve sight. However, like pinguecula, pytergia development is often attributed to a great deal of exposure to the sun through a lifetime.

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B707
Post 4

We really have to emphasize to our kids and grandkids how important it is to wear sunglasses and brimmed hats to keep sun exposure from our eyes.

We need to set a good example by doing the same ourselves. I don't think too many of us keep in mind that we should always protect our eyes from the sun. Most people are aware of protecting our skin from sunshine, but there are many medical conditions that affect our eyes, as well.

Misscoco
Post 3

A friend of mine has been doing some research on a promising new pinguecula surgery. She said she doesn't think that it has been approved by the FDA yet and isn't covered by insurance.

She found out that at least one university medical center in the U.S. is using a pinguecula removal surgery that involves using a graft from another place on the eye. People have reported good success - eye irritation is gone, as well as the redness and dry eyes. The pinguecula seems to not come back like it does with conventional surgery.

My friend is seriously considering getting this surgery because her pinguecula symptoms are driving her crazy.

seag47
Post 2

My mother has pingueculae because has worked outdoors at a garden center for several decades. She says that the spots really don’t cause any physical discomfort for her.

However, they have altered her appearance. She used to wear shimmery eye makeup and mascara to show off her eyes, but now, she would rather hide them. The yellow and white pingueculae have red blood vessels beside them, and she does look like she is tired all the time.

She avoids making eye contact with customers unless she is wearing her sunglasses. She tries to wear them all the time at work so that she can be friendly and provide good customer service.

cloudel
Post 1

I have seen pingueculae on my friend’s eyes and wondered what they were. She told me that she had already gotten them checked out, and she decided to just live with them.

She is in her fifties, and in her younger years, she spent lots of time at the beach without sunglasses. The pinguecula that formed as a result look a lot like the goo that accumulates in the corners of the eyes, but they are immovable.

Since they could come back if she had them removed, she decided not to waste money on surgery. Instead, she uses artificial tears to keep her eyes moist.

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