Pterygium vs Pinguecula

Nelrike Grobbelaar - B.Optom (UFS)

What is it?

Pterygiums and pingueculas are tissue growths on the conjunctiva, sometimes involving the cornea. Both are caused by dry eye and environmental elements such as wind, dust and ultraviolet light. It only affects vision if it grows over the cornea towards the pupil interrupting the line of sight. The difference between the two is the pinguecula is a yellowish patch on conjunctiva usually on the side closest to the nose. The pterygium is a growth of fleshy tissue, usually arising from the pinguecula, on the conjunctiva extending over onto the cornea. Pterygium can interfere with vision.

Symptoms include:

·         Irritation

·         Redness

·         Dryness

·         Gritty feeling

·         Foreign body sensitive

·         Burning

In many cases no treatment is needed. Protection of the eye from sun, dust and wind is recommended. If pterygium or pinguecula gets inflamed, eye drops or ointments can be used to reduce inflammation. Surgical removal is only done when pterygium interferes with vision, causes severe astigmatism, patient experiencing excessive irritation or tissue causing difficulty for contact lens fitting.