Pinguecula is defined as a yellowish spot on the white of the eye. It is often located on the side of the eye closest to the nose. The spot is not a tumor but a deposit of fat and protein. It does not involve the cornea or clear part of the eye. A pinguecula is a slow-developing growth that rarely causes significant vision problems.
Treatment of pinguecula is usually a treatment of symptoms. The spot or growth usually causes no pain and is reported most often to the ophthalmologist out of concern it may be a foreign body or a cancerous growth.
If the pinguecula causes dry or itchy eyes, artificial tears may be advised to relieve symptoms. On rare occasions, the pinguecula may become swollen, in which case an anti-inflammatory drug may be prescribed.
The only treatment of the pinguecula itself is surgical removal. Surgery for pinguecula is warranted if the growth affects vision. A pinguecula that grows into the cornea is called pterygium. Pterygium, and cases where the pinguecula affects the curvature of the eye and causes astigmatism, may warrant surgery to improve vision.
Other cases in which surgery may be warranted are if the pterygium or pinguecula is large enough to be noticed and is considered cosmetically unacceptable or if the dry eye sensation of the pinguecula cannot be satisfactorily treated by artificial tears.
Surgical removal of pinguecula to alleviate dry eye symptoms may improve the symptoms but it is possible some dry eye symptoms may remain.
Surgery for pinguecula is done on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. Topical eye drops are used to alleviate discomfort during the two- to three-week healing period.
While no known cause exists for pinguecula, some studies suggest it may result from overexposure to direct sunlight. As a precaution, sunglasses with ultraviolet protection are suggested.
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