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.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
Wear sunglasses and a hat when you are outdoors during the day.
Use over-the-counter artificial tears if your eyes feel dry.
When should you call for help?
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
Your eyes are still red and irritated after a week of treatment.
You have trouble seeing, double vision, or another change in vision.
A pterygium gets larger or affects your vision.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
Care instructions adapted under license by Kaiser Permanente. This care instruction is for use with your licensed healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.