Eye Conditions

Pterygium & Pinguecula

What are pterygium and pinguecula?

Pterygium (pronounced tur-IJ-ee-um) and pinguecula (pronounced pin- GWEK-yoo-la) are growths on the eye. They both involve the conjunctiva (the thin, filmy membrane that covers the white part of your eye) but pterygium extend onto the cornea (the clear front window of the eye). Both conditions are noncancerous growths and are fairly common.

Click to view a larger image of pinguecula

A pinguecula is a yellowish area or bump on the conjunctiva. It can occur on both sides of the eye, but is more common on the side closest to the nose. It results from UV exposure, deposition of fat, or normal aging change of the eye. In some patients this area can get inflamed. If it becomes chronically inflamed or very elevated, then surgery can be recommended, but this performed only in rare circumstances.


Click to view a larger image of pterygium

A pterygium is growth of fleshy tissue starting on the conjunctiva but extending on the cornea. The term comes from the Greek word pterygion meaning "wing" as the growth is usually triangular-shaped. It can occur on both sides of the eye, but is more common on the side towards the nose. This growth may remain small and without any symptoms or may grow large enough to interfere with vision or cause irritation. Because these growths extend on the cornea, they can change the shape of the cornea and cause astigmatism.


If surgery, is recommended. It will be performed as an outpatient procedure. The pterygium will be removed and a graft (either from another part of your eye or from donor amniotic membrane) will be placed, to prevent the growth from returning.

» Click here to learn more about Pterygium Surgery.

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