Pinguecula is the development of extra growth on the eyes causing yellowish patch inside the eyes. Unlike pterygium that grows on the cornea, pinguecula grows in the conjunctiva of the eyes with deposits of fat and protein. It can occur due to eye irritation or over-exposure to sunlight. It is benign (harmless) tumor growth on the eyes forming thin tissue of yellow layer. The growth is projected as slightly raised one from the sclera (white surface) of the eyes. This condition is often seen on elderly people and requires no treatment.
Shape of pinguecula :
A small tumor like growth of pinguecula is mostly triangular in shape. It appears as raised patch growing close to the cornea and lies clearly above the pupil and iris of the eyes. It develops commonly on the corner of the eyes that is close to the nose and rarely on the other corner. The size of pinguecula is small but rarely it can grow big and the growth rate is very slow.
Exact cause of pinguecula formation is not known but it is believed to be caused by over exposure to sunlight or dust. As one grows older, there is high risk of development of pinguecula. It is formed due to changes in the tissue of conjunctiva creating a small bump. These patches or bumps are added with fat particles and protein molecules. People working in welding industries are at high risk for developing pinguecula since more of dust particles enter into their eyes. Farmers have increased risk of getting pinguecula because they are prone to dust particles.
Pinguecula can cause eye irritation and dryness. Sometimes you feel that something has fallen into your eyes giving a gritty feeling. For some people, this can cause inflammation of the eyes and itching. The symptoms of pinguecula vary from one person to the other considerably. For some people, the signs are mild and for others it can be severe. The symptoms depend on the size of bump and its location.
Mere examination of the eyes is enough to diagnose pinguecula.
Often, pinguecula does not require any treatment. No pinguecula will become too big affecting the normal vision. Treatment is done only if there is swelling or itching or gritty feeling inside the eyes. Eye ointments/drops are prescribed for getting relief from irritation and dryness. Surgery is the last option for treating pinguecula and it can leave a scar inside your eyes. It is done only if it bothers you very much, it causes great discomfort while wearing contact lenses and it develops severe inflammation even when treated.
One cannot fully prevent development of pinguecula but can avoid the risk factors by following simple rules. Wear sunglasses when you are going out in the sunlight to block UV rays. They are helpful in protecting your eyes from dust and wind. Applying mild steroid eye drops on the eyes is enough to clear any debris built inside. In case you have dryness of eyes you can use artificial tears for keeping it moisturized.