A pinguecula is a raised, thick growth or bump that occurs on the sclera (white area of the eye). This yellowish non-cancerous bump is typically located close to the cornea. Typically it is located between the eyelids in the area that has been exposed to the sun. Often, pinguecula are located on the side of the eye closest to the nose (the inner sclera); however, they can also occur in the outer sclera (the side of the eye closest to the ear.
What Causes Pinguecula?
The primary cause of pingueculae is from sun exposure. The sun’s rays produce ultraviolet radiation that can damage the sclera. In addition to this, your risk of this condition increases with frequent exposure to wind and dust. Additionally, dry eye disease can increase the risk of pinguecula. Typically, this condition is found in middle-aged and elderly adults; however, it can also occur in children and young adult who spend a lot of time outdoors without using UV protection like sunglasses or hats. You can decrease your risk of developing this condition by always wearing sunglasses or a hat outdoors, even on a cloudy or overcast day. Opt for wraparound sunglasses rather than traditional frame sunglasses to help ensure protection from the sun’s UV rays.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Pinguecula?
Most of the time, pingueculae does not cause any symptoms. If you do experience any symptom, it is typically caused by a disruption of your tear film that moisturizes and protects the eye. Because the pinguecula is raised, it can prevent the tear film from evenly spreading across the eye, resulting in dryness. Dry eye syndrome causes burning, itching, a sensation of a foreign body in the eye, blurred vision and stinging.
Extra blood vessels may appear, causing the eye to appear red. Additionally, the pingueculae can become inflamed and irritated. When this occurs, the condition is called pingueculitis. this condition is the result of excess exposure to extremely dry conditions, sunlight, dust or wind.
As you can see, it is essential that you protect your eyes. In fact, it is just as important to wear sunglasses in the winter as it is in the summer. During the winter months, the sun sets in the sky lower; however, snow can reflect UV rays by 80 percent, which can significantly increase your exposure to UV rays. If you are snowboarding, sledding or skiing, it is essential that you protect your eyes with a proper fitting set of ski goggles.
What is the Treatment for Pinguecula?
The type of treatment needed for pinguecula will depend on the severity of your symptoms. If you have been diagnosed with pingueculae, it is essential that you always wear eye protection when you are outdoors. Sun exposure can encourage pingueculae to grow larger and become more severe. Your eyes should be protected anytime you go out doors in the sunlight, even on cloudy or overcast days as the UV rays from the sun can penetrate through the clouds and cause damage. Photochromic lenses offer 100 percent protection from UV radiation by darkening the sunlight and shielding the eyes from the harmful high energy blue light. Find out more about photochromic lenses and pinguecula by visiting an eye care professional.
If you are diagnosed with mild pinguecula, you may experience foreign body sensation or dry eyes. Using a lubricating eye drop can help relieve these symptoms. Additionally, your eye care professional may prescribe scleral contact lenses. Scleral contact lenses cover the pinguecula to prevent further UV exposure and relieve the symptoms associated with the condition. Your eye care professional may also order eye drops that are specially formulated for dry eyes. If you experience inflammation or swelling, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or steroid eye drops may be recommended to reduce inflammation and relieve the pain associated with pinguecula.
Finally, if the pinguecula interferes with your vision, prevents you from wearing contact lenses, becomes cosmetically bothersome or uncomfortable, surgical removal may be necessary. Although pinguecula is a noncancerous growth, it is important to contact your eye care professional if you notice any change in the size, color or shape of the pinguecula.
If you feel you are suffering from pingueculae or pterygium, be sure to contact Dr. Bassiri at Fusion Eye Care in Raleigh NC at (919) 977-7480