If you notice a yellow spot on the white of your eye, you are most likely dealing with pinguecula. The ophthalmological disorder is not severe, but the symptoms can be uncomfortable. Find out how to treat pinguecula and, more importantly, how you can prevent it.

What is pinguecula?

“Pinguecula” comes from the Latin “pinguis” meaning “fat”. It is actually a deposit of fat and calcium that occurs in the conjunctiva and damages the collagen fibers in the eye. Thus, patients who experience pinguecula have one (or more) yellowish growths in their eyes.

Other features of the disease:

  • Pinguecula usually appears in the inner corner of the eye;
  • It can affect one or both eyes;
  • There may be one or more spots;
  • It can occur at any age, but is more common in the elderly (because collagen fibers degrade with age);
  • The growth is benign, so it does not cause cancer.

Pinguecula vs. pterygium

Do not confuse the pinguecula with the pterygium. Although both are ophthalmological disorders of the conjunctiva, the level of severity differs.

  • The pinguecula appears as a yellow spot, while the pterygium has a triangular shape, growing from the nose towards the pupil.
  • The pinguecula keeps its appearance over time, while the pterygium grows, covering the cornea.
  • Pinguecula does not affect the quality of vision, whereas pterygium can lead to astigmatism and distort the refractive power of the eye.

*In very rare cases, pinguecula can develop into a pterygium, so ophthalmological examination is mandatory for diagnosis and treatment.

Pinguecula: Causes

There are several causes of pinguecula, but the main one is a lack of collagen in the eyes. This can be explained by:

  • Ageing – pinguecula is more common in people over 60;
  • Exposure in an environment with wind, dust, dirt or pollutants;
  • Exposure to UV rays for too long;

At the same time, pinguecula can occur as a result of:

  • Some hormonal disorders;
  • A high percentage of body fat;
  • Certain treatments;
  • Dry eyes.

Pinguecula: Symptoms

The most common signs seen in patients experiencing pinguecula are:

  • Yellow spot on the eye – one or more;
  • Inflammation;
  • Irritation;
  • Itching;
  • Redness of the eyeball, especially near the iris, pupil and cornea;
  • Sensation of foreign object in the eye;
  • Dry eyes.

Pinguecula: Treatment

During the examination, the doctor performs several ophthalmological investigations to determine the causes and related treatment. The diagnosis for pinguecula can be determined by physical examination using a slit lamp, also known as a biomicroscope.

As a rule, this disorder does not require treatment unless it causes severe discomfort. In such cases, your doctor may prescribe:

  • eye drops or ointments to relieve irritation and redness;
  • artificial tears or ointments to increase eye lubrication in case of dryness or irritation;
  • corticosteroid drops – in more severe situations, the same, to control inflammation.

Pinguecula: Surgery

Ophthalmic surgery may be an option when, even after local treatments, the pinguecula increases in size, becomes prominent and painful, or causes discomfort when wearing contact lenses. The surgery is extremely simple, performed on an outpatient basis, and recovery is rapid.

Some patients also opt for surgery for aesthetic reasons. However, Dr. Holhoș Ophthalmology Network does not recommend pinguecula surgery as long as quality of vision or quality of life is not affected.

How to prevent pinguecula?

An effective prevention against pinguecula is to protect the eyes against ultraviolet rays. This can be achieved by using quality sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection, as well as safety glasses in dusty or windy environments.

In addition, annual ophthalmological examination can help prevent, detect and treat pinguecula early. Dr. Holhoș clinics are waiting for you in Cluj-Napoca, Alba Iulia, Turda, Mediaș and Sibiu, with the best specialists and state-of-the-art ophthalmological technology. All this, so that you can have the best care in maximum comfort.

Text medically reviewed by Dr. Teodor Holhoș, Ophthalmic Surgeon
Written by Dr. Holhos Team

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