Pinguecula is a yellow lump or spot that grows on the conjunctiva, which is the clear layer along the eyelids and covers the white part of the eye (sclera). The growth of a pinguecula lump or spot is classified as benign and not cancer, so it is not dangerous .
When you have a pinguecula, your eyes will feel dry, swollen , painful, or red. Although pinguecula is more commonly experienced by elderly people, it is possible that younger people and even children can experience this condition.
Causes of Pinguecula
Pinguecula originates from tissue on the conjunctiva that changes, thus forming a small lump or spot. In pinguecula lumps or spots, there is usually fat, calcium, or protein content.
The cause of the changes in the conjunctival tissue is uncertain. However, the following factors are thought to be related to the appearance of pinguecula:
- Too often exposed to the sun, dust, or wind
- Often outdoor activities and living in areas with hot temperatures
- Have a smoking habit
- Suffering from diabetes mellitus
Pinguecula is characterized by a small yellowish spot or bump on the conjunctiva of the eye. These spots or bumps usually grow on the side of the cornea near the nose, although they can also grow in other parts. Pinguecula can grow in size, but generally takes several years.
In addition to yellow spots and bumps, pinguecula sufferers can also experience the following symptoms:
- The conjunctiva of the eye is red and swollen
- Dry eyes , feeling itchy, burning, or like there is sand stuck in the eye
- Vision becomes blurred
When to see a doctor
In general, pinguecula does not cause serious symptoms, so it does not require treatment. However, an examination needs to be done if the following symptoms occur:
- Pinguecula changes in size, shape, or color
- Thick, yellow discharge from one or both eyes
- The eyelids or the skin around the eyes are red and swollen
- The symptoms experienced did not subside despite treatment
- Visual disturbances occur
Examination should also be done if you have concerns about the conditions you are experiencing.
Pinguecula can be diagnosed through a physical eye exam. Ophthalmologists can generally find out this condition just by looking directly at the appearance and location of the growing spots or lumps.
However, to confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may also perform a slit lamp biomicroscopy examination . This examination will show the size, shape, and color of the lump more clearly.
If needed, a scanning procedure called optical coherence tomography may also be done to determine the thickness of the lump.
Generally, no specific treatment is needed because the condition can heal by itself. However, treatment can be done when the eye is very uncomfortable or vision is obstructed.
In order to deal with discomfort in the eyes, usually a sensation like there is sand in the eye and irritation due to dry eyes, the doctor can give eye drops or eye ointment. Meanwhile, to relieve red or swollen eyes, the doctor will give corticosteroid eye drops .
If the growth of the pinguecula is disturbing the appearance, the lump or spot can be removed by surgery. Surgical options may also be considered if the pinguecula has interfered with vision, or if it continues to cause inflammation and discomfort, despite treatment.
If the pinguecula needs to be treated surgically, the doctor may also transplant a piece of normal tissue where the pinguecula appears. This is done to prevent lumps or spots from reappearing.
In rare cases, the pinguecula can grow until it covers the cornea and interferes with vision. This condition is called a pterygium .
Given that the cause is unknown, pinguecula is difficult to completely prevent. However, you can do the following things to reduce the risk of pinguecula or prevent the condition from getting worse for those who already suffer from pinguecula:
- Wear sunglasses when outdoors. This effort aims to block ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) radiation, as well as protect the eyes from eye irritants , such as wind or dust.
- Use synthetic tears to keep your eyes moist and to relieve dry, red, and sore eyes.
- Use eye protection, especially when working with chemicals or cleaning dusty rooms.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes can make pinguecula symptoms worse.