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Pinguecula: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis

What is Pinguecula?

Pinguecula is the name given to an abnormal growth that develops on the conjunctiva. This growth has a yellowish tinge to it and is normally seen in the area of the eye that is closest to the nose. Conjunctiva is a membrane that covers the sclera or the white of the eyes. The growth is made up of fats, proteins, and also has calcium. The size of a Pinguecula may vary ranging from barely noticeable to large enough to be discomforting.[1,2,3]

What is Pinguecula?

Pinguecula is completely benign and is not a cause of worry; however sometimes it tends to cause eye irritation and redness. The primary reason behind this abnormal growth is believed to be the ultraviolet rays of the sun caused by excessive exposure. It usually takes years for Pinguecula to develop. It is seen mostly in people who spend a lot of time out in the sun in hot humid weather conditions in the dust and wind for professional reasons or otherwise.[1,2,3]

Pinguecula is generally a cosmetic problem and causes only mild symptoms as if something has gone into the eyes. It is normally treated with artificial tears but sometimes people opt for surgical removal purely for cosmetic reasons.[1,2,3]

What Causes Pinguecula?

As stated, excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun is the primary cause for Pinguecula. A study done in 2019 showed that people who stay in countries near the equator are more likely to develop Pinguecula than people living away from it. This is because the rays of the sun are strongest near the equator. Additionally, exposure to dust, wind and, dry weather are also risk factors for Pinguecula.[3]

What are the Symptoms of Pinguecula?

The primary symptom of Pinguecula is a yellow colored abnormal growth on the whites of the eyes. It can affect either one eye or both. The growth or spot is generally round but it can also be triangle shaped. The symptoms caused by Pinguecula are normally mild and include redness and irritation of the eyes, dryness, itching sensation, foreign body sensation in the eye, and rarely blurred vision. A review done in 2017 states that since Pinguecula does not affect the cornea of the eye, it does not impact the vision of a person in any way.[3]

How is Pinguecula Treated?

Pinguecula is a condition which normally does not require treatment. However, if the symptoms are discomforting for the person then over the counter or prescription medications can be given to calm down the symptoms of itching and redness. Surgery to remove the growth is only done on an elective basis on people who want it to be removed for cosmetic reasons.[3]

There are a variety of over the counter eyedrops that help symptoms of dryness, burning, and itching seen with Pinguecula. Artificial tears are also quite effective for managing the symptoms of Pinguecula. However, some artificial tears contain preservatives which can further irritate the eyes. Thus it should be ensured to buy only preservative free drops. It should also be noted that people with Pinguecula should inform their physician about the drops or other medications that they are using to manage the symptoms.[3]

Steroid eyedrops are sometimes prescribed to manage the symptoms of Pinguecula in case over the counter medications do not help. They deal with the inflammation caused by the condition and also help in relieving foreign body sensation in the eye. The surgical procedure for Pinguecula involves removal of the abnormal growth and placing a piece of healthy conjunctiva in the area using special glue.[3]

What Is The Prognosis Of Pinguecula?

The overall prognosis of people with Pinguecula is excellent. This is because Pinguecula does not cause any health concerns. At maximum it causes only eye irritation and redness which can easily be taken care of with the treatments mentioned above. Some people may want Pinguecula removed solely for cosmetic reasons.[3]

In conclusion, Pinguecula is the name given to an abnormal growth in the conjunctiva in the eyes. It is yellow in color and consists of bacteria, protein and calcium. It is a completely benign condition and does not pose any health risk. It is primarily caused due to overexposure to sun when the ultraviolet rays hit the eye directly.[1,2,3]

Pinguecula affects people living in countries near the equator most as this is the area where the rays of the sun are strongest. In addition, spending a lot of time in dust and wind also increases the chances of developing Pinguecula. Treatment for this condition usually consists of over the counter eyedrops. If this does not relieve the symptoms then steroid eyedrops may be prescribed by the physician that will treat the condition. Surgery is reserved only for people who want to get the Pinguecula removed. Other than that, there are no health concerns associated with Pinguecula.[1,2,3]


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 23, 2022

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