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Catching the warning signs of pinguecula and pterygium can help your eye health

How Two Similar Eye Conditions Can Affect Your Sight

October 5th, 2016

Common Growths On The Eye

Eye discomfort is a very common experience for most people, especially for people that live in windy, dry, or warm climates. These harsh environments will usually cause eyes to become dry and irritated.

There are cases in which yellow marks or triangular growths start appearing near the cornea of the eye. What are these growths? They will usually indicate that a person has pinguecula or pterygium.

Pinguecula and pterygium are growths that appear on the cornea and the conjunctiva, the thin membrane that goes over the white portion of the eye. Here’s how to tell the difference between each:


Pinguecula is distinguished by a yellow mark or bump near the cornea of the eye. Its characteristics are similar to that of a callus on your skin.

pterygium surfers eye illustration

Pterygium, also called Surfer’s eye, is known for its triangular shape on the white part of the eye. After a period of time the growth spreads towards the cornea of the eye. A pinguecula can often develop into a pterygium.

Although these growths seem alarming, they are both common. If left untreated, both of these growths can become heavily inflamed, and pterygia can lead to astigmatism and potential loss of eyesight. Abnormal pingueculas can sometimes be precancerous in unusual presentations.

Common symptoms

Initially, pinguecula does not usually come with many symptoms, but if it becomes irritated, it may feel like there is something in your eye. If it becomes swollen the symptoms would be:

  • Localized redness
  • Irritation
  • Sensitivity to the wind, sun, or any dry environment

Pterygium symptoms include:

  • Localized redness
  • Inflammation
  • Feeling of having something in your eye
  • Burning
  • Grainy feeling

If you experience any of these symptoms, we recommend contacting your eye care specialist as soon as possible.

Treatment options

Your eye care professional can diagnose both of these eye conditions by examining your eyes through a slit-lamp. Pinguecula and pterygium normally do not require treatment unless the conditions worsen. When the eyes become irritated or inflamed, eye drops are commonly prescribed to soothe the symptoms. These growths can be surgically removed if they progress or distort your vision.

The recurrence rate for pterygium, specifically, is between 30-40%, and more likely to reoccur in people under 40. To help prevent these eye conditions from developing again, the following is recommended:

  • Wear UV protective sunglasses
  • Do not look into the sun directly
  • Use eye drops if your eyes become dry or irritated

At Logan Eye Care, we make it our goal to provide the best eye care available in Lake Mary. If you or a loved one have one of these eye conditions or are experiencing any difficulty with your eyes, schedule your appointment with us today.