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What Are Pterygium and Pinguecula and How Are They Treated?

What Are Pterygium and Pinguecula and How Are They Treated?

Pterygium and pinguecula are two types of growths that form on your eye. If they get large enough, they can impact your vision. But even before they grow too big, they can cause bothersome symptoms such as dry eye and itchiness. 

Our team here at Maryland Eye Care Center in Silver Spring and Hyattsville, Maryland, wants you to know that you’re not stuck with these frustrating conditions forever. From diagnosing to removing, we’re experts when it comes to pterygium and pinguecula.

Here’s what you need to know about these two conditions.

What is a pterygium?

A pterygium is a fleshy growth on your conjunctiva, the transparent layer covering the whites of your eyes. Because pterygia contain blood vessels, they’re often pinkish. Some pterygia are small, but they can grow large enough to cover your cornea and impact your vision. 

What is a pinguecula?

A pterygium can start as a pinguecula. A pinguecula is a small yellow growth that forms on your conjunctiva, often in the corner of your eye near your nose. Pingueculas receive their yellow color from protein, fat, and calcium. 

Like a pterygium, a pinguecula can range in size from small to large. If a pinguecula grows onto your cornea, it too can obscure your iris. 

Symptoms and causes of pterygium and pinguecula

Increased exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun, wind, and dust can contribute to the development of a pterygium or pinguecula. Because surfers tend to develop these conditions, a pterygium is sometimes called surfer’s eye.

You might suspect you have either of these conditions if you notice:

Because some of these symptoms overlap with other conditions, it’s important to schedule an eye exam to confirm the source of your symptoms. For example, nearsightedness can also cause blurry vision. 

Treating pterygium and pinguecula

Our team here at Maryland Eye Care Center diagnoses and treats eye problems like pterygium and pinguecula regularly. 

Treatments, like prescription eye drops, can help reduce unwanted symptoms like dry eye and grittiness. Prescription eye drops contain lubricants to restore hydration and steroids to combat swelling and inflammation. Neither the drops nor the steroids shrink the fleshy growth, though. 

While surgery isn’t typically recommended for a pinguecula, it might be a viable solution for a pterygium. Larger pterygia are more likely to cause complications, affect your vision, or distort your cornea. 

Eye surgery can remove the growth, restore your vision, and improve your eye’s aesthetic appearance. When the fleshy growth is removed, we graft healthy tissue to prevent the regrowth of the pterygium. 

Our team also provides guidance on preventing these growths. We suggest that you:

If you’re concerned about an eye growth or dry eye, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re just a call or click away. Schedule your consultation at the Maryland Eye Care Center location nearest you and get the relief you need.

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