Pinguecula is a type of conjunctiva degeneration in the eye. It is a non-cancerous or benign growth that develops on the thin layer of tissue covering the white part of the eye, the conjunctiva. Where there is more than one growth, they are called pingueculae.
A pinguecula is usually triangular in shape and yellow in color. It is a small raised patch that develops close to the cornea. It forms when the tissue in the conjunctiva changes and creates a bump. The bump may contain protein, calcium, fat, or a combination of the three.
Pingueculae often grow on the side of the cornea close to the nose. They may also grow next to the cornea on the other side.
Some pingueculae become large and may interfere with the patient’s vision. However, they grow at a very slow rate and are rare.
One can get pingueculae at any age, but they are more common among the middle-aged and older adults.
Also Known As
- Yellow bump on the eye
- Farmer’s eye
Causes and Risk Factors
The reason for the growth of pinguecula isn’t fully understood. Changes in the tissue of the conjunctiva may lead to the development of pinguecula.
The changes in the tissue have been linked to irritation caused by environmental factors such as exposure to sunlight, wind and dust. This eye disorder is most common in tropical climates.
Dry eye disease may also lead to the growth of pinguecula.
Age may also be a factor because it is more common among middle-aged people and the elderly.
Signs & Symptoms
The symptoms of a pinguecula range from none to severe. The patient may experience:
- Dryness or irritation the eye
- Foreign body sensation in the eye
- Itching, redness and inflammation
- Decreased contact lens tolerance
- Poor cosmesis
A pinguecula appears as a yellow bump or patch on the conjunctiva next to the junction between the sclera and the cornea.
Eye professionals diagnose a pinguecula through a simple eye examination. The professional will use a slit lamp to examine all areas of the eye. It enables them to spot abnormalities and assess the severity of the growth.
The closer a pinguecula is to the patient’s cornea the more likely it is to affect their vision.
Treatment is aimed at relieving the irritation or pain or removing the bump from the cornea.
Most of the pinguecula cases are minor and can be treated if they cause discomfort. If the eye hurts the eye professional can prescribe eye drops, gels or eye ointment to relieve irritation and redness.
In severe cases, the eye doctor may need to remove a pinguecula surgically. Pinguecula surgery is relatively safe. A surgical procedure is considered where the pinguecula:
- Affects vision by growing over the cornea
- Is persistently and severely inflamed, even after the application of eye drops, gels or ointments
- Causes extreme discomfort for a patient who wears contact lenses
- Affects the aesthetics or appearance of the eye
Usually, a pinguecula doesn’t cause any problems. The vast majority of pinguecula cases are mild and can be managed easily. Though not as high, there is a likelihood of the pinguecula recurring after surgery.
Also, the irritation or persistent redness and foreign body sensation may last several weeks or months after surgery.
The doctor may give the patient medication or use surface radiation to try and prevent the pinguecula growing back.
People should wear sunglasses if they have to spend a lot of time outdoors. The sunglasses should have the coating that blocks ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) sun rays.
Sunglasses help to decrease irritation and possible occurrence of a pinguecula and may help an individual to avoid surgery. They protect the eyes from wind, dust, sand and other outdoor elements. It is also essential to wear protective eyewear in a dusty and dry environment.
Regularly moisturizing or lubricating the eyes with artificial tears helps to keep the eyes moistened, reduces irritation and may also help to prevent the development of pingueculae.