What Causes Pinguecula on the Eye?

Have you noticed a yellowish bump on the white part of your eyes? Are your eyes red and irritated? Do your eyes feel dry? You may have a Pinguecula.

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Although the causes of Pinguecula are unknown, some factors have been implicated:

  • Age appears to be a factor with most cases occurring in adults from the age of forty.
  • Long-term exposure to environmental factors such as ultraviolet light, wind, dust and smoke.
  • Chronic trauma at a micro level due to dryness of the eye could give rise to lesions of the conjunctiva leading to Pinguecula.
  • How is it Diagnosed?

    It is readily visible without any special instrumentation and can be on either the temporal (the part near the ear) or the nasal (the part near the nose) of the conjunctiva (the transparent tissue overlying the white part of the eye, or sclera).

    A routine eye examination is usually sufficient to diagnose the condition, especially with the use of a slit-lamp microscope.

    This is a common condition of the conjunctiva, especially in geographic areas where sunshine is abundant. This of course does not imply only warm climates since cold areas where snow abounds are known to be excessively bright due to sunlight reflecting off the snow. The same phenomenon holds true of deserts where the sun reflects off the sand.

    Although common, atypical cases can lead an eye care provider to erroneously diagnose the lesion as carcinoma. In these cases, a biopsy can guide the eye doctor to the correct diagnosis.

    How is It Treated and Managed?

    This is generally a benign condition that rarely requires treatment. That being said, dryness of the eyes may be an underlying issue and should be addressed with lubricating tears or further treatment for Dry Eyes if necessary.

    If you experience discomfort from acute inflammation, your eye care provider can prescribe mild anti-inflammatory drops or lubricating drops. Lubricating drops may be sufficient if the inflammation is low grade.

    The physical presence of the disease on the conjunctiva makes that area uneven with a bump surrounded by valleys. Since the cornea is another “bump” on the surface of the eye, the valley between the cornea and the Pinguecula can get very dry due to the physical difficulty of tears getting in there after each blink. Thus, lubrication of the eyes can be very soothing.

    You may also benefit from wearing good quality sunglasses in order to protect you from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, dust and wind. Think of your UV-protected sunglasses as the “sunscreen” for your eyes in order to prevent further damage.

    Rarely, there may be extreme cases of the disease. If you are suffering from severe inflammation, corneal thinning, excessive growth of the bump, or from an unsightly cosmetic appearance, surgery may be required.

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