Pinguecula (pronounced pin-gwek-yoo-la) looks like a yellow, thickened patch directly on the sclera of the eye. The sclera is the white part of the eye and Pinguecula can usually be seen at the edge of the cornea. The Pinguecula presents as a lump on the surface of the eye and can be alarming to see if you’ve never had it before. This yellow streak in the eye is non-cancerous and is always seen on a part of the eye that is exposed to the sunshine. You’ll find these yellow lumps on the surface of the eyeball usually closer to the nose on the inner eyeball. but they can be seen on the outer part of the eye, too.
Pingueculae (plural), can encroach on the cornea, which can not only affect vision, but can also be quite uncomfortable, as the cornea is densely populated with nerve cells and endings. In this case, the pingueculae are now called pterygium (pronounced ter-yg-ium), and usually require surgical removal under local anaesthetic. Typical patients with pterygium come from hot sandy countries, i.e. deserts.
Symptoms of Pinguecula
Most people don’t feel any different because of a Pinguecula on their eye, but others notice visual changes. Black spots can affect your vision and these are not uncommon with Pinguecula on the eyeball. The symptoms that are most common are those that come from the disruption of the tear film. The Pinguecula causes an interruption in the film as it no longer evenly spreads across the surface of the eye and this can be uncomfortable. Some of the other symptoms that you can expect include:
- Dry eye symptoms such as burning, itching, stinging and the sensation of something stuck in the eye
- Blurred vision
- Extra blood vessels on the surface of the eye, making your eyes look red
- Pinguecula can become inflamed and swollen, making the eye sensitive and sore
Irritation and redness after sun exposure or wind exposure
- Some people mistake pinguecula vs pterygium, but pterygium is very different!
What Causes Pinguecula?
The main cause of Pinguecula is exposure to sunlight to excess. Ultraviolet light can hurt the eye and cause the Pinguecula to develop, and some people may find that dry eye disease can cause it, too. It’s more common to find Pinguecula in the eyes of those who have had long exposure to the sun over time, so those in the middle to late age. Wearing sunglasses can help, but Pinguecula is uncomfortable and feels like there is something in the eye bothering the sufferer. It can affect younger people and children, but it’s less common in those age groups than it is older people. Pinguecula can also be caused by dry eyes, wind exposure, and exposure to dust, too. Debris like dust can get into the eye and cause Pinguecula to develop. With better cloud coverage, sunglasses and a hat, you can protect your eyes without worrying that more Pinguecula will develop over time.
If you notice Pinguecula in your eye, don’t panic! It can develop as a normal part of the aging process, and it’s very likely that most people develop one by age 70.
How To Cure Pinguecula?
Treating Pinguecula will depend on the symptoms and how severe they are. When you notice a yellow lump on the eye, the best thing that you can do is start protecting your eyes from the sun. Ultraviolet rays are harmful to the eye, and protection from these rays with sunglasses, hats and other coverings will enable you to prevent more Pinguecula from developing. More UV light continues their growth, and shielding your eyes from the sun as much as possible will help. Clearing your eyes on overcast days is important, too, and you can consider wearing photochromic glasses to provide 100% UV protection from the sun. They darken automatically, so you don’t have to carry two pairs of glasses with you.
Also check: Coronavirus Eye Safety Guide
With Pinguecula, dry eye disease is a common cause so keeping the eyes lubricated and clear will help you to avoid developing any more Pinguecula. You can use lubricating eye drops to help, and they can be provided to relieve your symptoms of dry eye, which can relieve the “foreign object in the eye” feeling you have with the Pinguecula. Your optician can help you with the glasses and your doctor can offer you some relief with the eye drops.
Sometimes, sclera contact lenses can help to prevent and cover the Pinguecula on the surface of the eye. As Pinguecula can lead to swelling, some steroid eye drops can help, and if the eye is sore because of dryness, eye drops will usually help. However, in some cases, surgery may be necessary. If it becomes too much for you you can ask your doctor to remove it – usually if it interferes with blinking. Any changes to the Pinguecula should be reported to your doctor right away, as even though they are not cancerous, changes should be watched closely.
Contact Belson Opticians
If you have any questions or concerns about Pinguecula, contact Belson Opticians today. We’ll check your eyes and offer the help that you need.