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Pterygium & Pinguecula

A pterygium is a benign growth that invades the cornea, the transparent covering of the front of the eye, from the conjunctiva, the lining of the eyelids and the scelra. A pterygium may be small or grow large enough to interfere with vision and most commonly occurs from the inner corner of the eye.

Cause of a Pterygium

The exact cause is not well understood. A pterygium occurs more often in people who spend a great deal of time outdoors, especially in sunny climates. Long-term exposure to sunlight, especially ultraviolet (UV) rays, and chronic eye irritation from dry, dusty, and windy conditions seems to play an important role.

Treatment for Pterygium

When a pterygium becomes red and irritated, topical eye drops or ointments may be used to help reduce the inflammation. If the pterygium is large enough to threaten sight, is growing, or is unsightly, it can be removed surgically. However despite proper surgical removal, the pterygium may return, particularly in young people. Surface radiation or medications can be used to help prevent reoccurrences. Protecting the eyes from excessive ultraviolet light with proper sunglasses and avoiding dry, dusty conditions may also help.


A pinguecula is a yellowish patch or bump on the white of the eye, most often on the side closest to the nose. It is not a tumor, but an alteration of normal tissue resulting in a deposit of protein and fat. Unlike a pterygium, a pinguecula does not actually grow onto the cornea. A pinguecula is prevalent in tropical climates and is in direct correlation with UV exposure and/or chronic eye irritation.

Treatment for Pinguecula

No treatment is necessary unless it becomes inflamed. A pinguecula does not grow onto the cornea or threaten sight. However if particularly annoying or unsightly, a Pinguecula may, on rare occasions, be surgically removed.

Pterygium & Pinguecula at Eye Care Associates of Nevada