When it comes to ocular vocabulary, many of us are familiar with common eye conditions and their related names, such as glaucoma and cataracts. But there are many lesser known eye conditions that are quite common. Two of those conditions, pinguecula and pterygium, are easy to confuse because they are extremely similar. Today we will take a look at both of these eye conditions and break down what makes them different.
What is a Pinguecula?
A pinguecula is a small, round, benign growth that can develop on the eye. This growth forms on the conjunctiva, the white tissue near the cornea, typically on the inner side of the eye. It is usually yellow in color. Frequent or extreme exposure to sun, dust, or wind can contribute to this condition.
Pinguecula is pronounced ping-gweh-kyuh-luh. Listen to pinguecula pronounced here. Interested in learning more about pinguecula? Check out these pinguecula FAQs.
Symptoms of a pinguecula include dryness, itching, redness, and overall irritation in the eye. In most cases, a pinguecula will cause only minor discomfort that can be successfully treated with eye drops. It will not go away on its own, so treatment is required to relieve discomfort. Though not usually necessary, in severe cases, a pinguecula can be surgically removed.
What is a Pterygium?
A pterygium is a benign conjunctival growth that results from excessive exposure to UV rays. Rather than being round, the growth is wedge-shaped. This condition is often referred to as Surfer’s Eye, because light reflected off of water is a main contributor to this condition. The growths can expand to the cornea, cause irritation, and affect vision. They are most common in people who work outdoors and are exposed to the sun and wind.
Pterygium is pronounced tuh-rij-ee-uhm. Listen to pterygium pronounced here.
Symptoms of a pterygium include eye irritation and inflammation. Although the growth might not continue to get larger, it will not go away on its own. Treatment is necessary to relieve discomfort. If the growth becomes so large that it interferes with your vision, or if eye drops and ointment do not relieve symptoms, surgery can remove a pterygium. Unfortunately, it is possible for pterygium to grow back after treatment.
Pinguecula vs. Pterygium
Now that we have a basic understanding of both of these terms, let’s take a look at how they are similar and different.
We will start with how they are similar. Both of these eye conditions are types of conjunctival growths that can result from eye trauma or dry or windy conditions. The growths can cause irritation.
So how are these eye growths different? The primary distinction between these two eye conditions is that pterygiums can actually spread across and change the shape of your cornea, whereas pingueculae don’t affect your cornea. For this same reason, a pinguecula very rarely interferes with your vision, while a pterygium does more often. Because pterygiums interfere with vision more than pingueculae do, you might notice a pterygium before you would notice a pinguecula. Interestingly, a pinguecula can turn into a pterygium, but not vice versa.
Pinguecula and Pterygium Treatment in Austin, Texas
If you live near Austin, Texas and think you might have a pinguecula or pterygium, call Broberg Eye Care today. Our doctors will evaluate your eye(s) and provide recommendations for treatment or removal, if necessary. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.