A pinguecula is a growth that develops on the conjunctiva of the eye. The overdevelopment of tissue is usually yellow and tends to form on the side of the eye closest to the nose. Pinguecula may be small and hardly noticeable, or large and uncomfortable, but this overgrowth of tissue usually happens at a very slow rate.
The main sign of pinguecula is the appearance of a round or triangular growth on the sclera of the eye. Other symptoms may occur such as itching, redness, swelling, or dryness. Fortunately, pinguecula do not typically change a person’s vision because they do not grow on the cornea. If you notice a growth like this in one or both eyes, you should contact your general ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye assessment.
Pinguecula do not typically require treatment unless they interfere with the quality of vision or cause bothersome symptoms. Noninvasive treatment is available to manage symptoms, and in some cases surgery can be done. Products such as lubricating eye drops can help relieve symptoms of itching or dryness and there are some prescription medications that can slow or shrink the growth.
Pinguecula growth can happen at any age, though it is mainly found in people middle-aged or older. Exposure to the sun, dust, wind, or dryness may cause pinguecula, so wearing good quality polarized sunglasses when outside is recommended.
The condition of pinguecula is not dangerous and does not typically require immediate treatment. If you suspect you have a pinguecula, an experienced eye doctor will be able to diagnose and rule out other eye health conditions. Annual eye exams are the best way to ensure healthy eyes.