What Are Pinguecula and Pterygium?

Pinguecula refers to a benign, yellowish growth on the cornea's surface, often appearing near the nose's corner. Pterygium, on the other hand, is a pinkish, triangular tissue growth on the cornea.

It usually develops slowly from the eye's corner towards the cornea and can potentially disrupt vision by causing astigmatism or covering the pupil in advanced stages.

Causes of Pinguecula and Pterygium

The primary causes of pinguecula and pterygium include prolonged exposure to UV rays, dry eyes, and environmental irritants like dust, wind, and smoke. These conditions are more prevalent in warmer climates, particularly affecting those who frequently work or spend time outdoors in such environments.

Diagnosing These Eye Conditions

Diagnosis typically involves a standard eye exam and a review of the patient's medical history. Both conditions are often identifiable through visual inspection.

Preventive Measures: Protecting Your Eyes

To prevent these conditions, consider:

  • Wearing UV-protective sunglasses and a brimmed hat in bright sunlight. Sunglasses also shield eyes from dust and debris.
  • Avoiding environments with high levels of dust, smoke, or wind.
  • Regularly resting your eyes, especially if they are strained. Looking into the distance every 30 minutes and using artificial tears can help.

Patients already diagnosed with these conditions should regularly monitor their eyes for any changes and consult their doctor if any are noticed.

Recognising the Symptoms

Symptoms may include the visible presence of a growth, alongside pain, irritation, redness, burning, and excessive tearing. In severe cases, the growth can extend into the cornea and affect vision, potentially leading to astigmatism.

Treatment Options for Pinguecula and Pterygium

Treatment varies based on severity. In milder cases, protective measures against UV exposure are recommended. For more severe cases, medicated eye drops or surgery may be necessary. Post-surgery, patients typically require a few hours of rest and can usually return home the same day.

Recurrence and Advanced Treatment Techniques

There is a high chance of recurrence, especially in younger patients or those frequently exposed to UV light. To reduce recurrence post-surgery, new transplantation techniques involving the patient's own conjunctiva or amniotic membranes are employed. In cases of severe, repeated occurrences, mitomycin C eye drops have shown effectiveness in preventing recurrence.