What is pterygium and pinguecula?

Pterygium and Pinguecula
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Pterygium and pinguecula: Overview

Pterygium (say "teh-RIH-jee-um") and pinguecula (say "ping-GWEH-kew-luh") are similar eye problems. They are both a growth on the conjunctiva. This is the lining of the eyelid and the covering of the white part of the eye. The growths may make your eyes dry and sore.

  • A pterygium grows on the cornea. This is the clear part of the eye that covers the colored part of the eye. It sometimes affects your vision.
  • A pinguecula may grow close to the cornea, but it does not grow over it. It is most common in older people.

Too much exposure to the sun may play a role in these problems. They are most common in hot climates. Dry air, dust, and smoke can make them more likely to occur.

Your doctor may prescribe steroid drops to reduce redness and irritation. You also may use over-the-counter drops (artificial tears) to keep your eyes wet. If a pterygium gets big enough to cover part of the cornea, you may need surgery to remove it.

How can you care for pterygium and pinguecula?

  • Wear sunglasses and a hat when you are outdoors during the day.
  • Use over-the-counter artificial tears if your eyes feel dry.

Pterygium and pinguecula: When to call

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have vision changes.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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