Pterygium and pinguecula


Pterygium and pinguecula

What is it?

Among the most common and oldest-known eye diseases are pterygium and its minor variant, pinguecula. These are growths on the eye surface from the conjunctiva, a totally benign effect of ultraviolet rays(UVB), but may cause irritation and impaired vision.


Many patients come to the doctor complaining of "a lump or lining on the white of the eye" which can be red and irritated, or grow "into the apple of the eye". It is usually a pterygium or pinguecula.

Pinguecula elastosis is a plaque, whitish or yellowish (as in "fat"). Sometimes it bulges and irritates. The pterygium is more aggressive, with growth into the cornea, with a greater tendency to swell. It can affect vision by distorting the cornea, causing astigmatism or directly if it progresses to the central area.


If irritative episodes occur, pinguecula may require lubricants and anti-inflammatory eye drops. It will rarely be subject to removal, only if ignited frequently or for aesthetics. In pterygium, however, it is common indication for surgery. However, it remains a troubling problem for its sometimes reappearing tendency, to recurrence.

In recent decades, much progress has been made for the treatment of pterygium, achieving a significantly reduced recurrence rate. Several strategies can be combined according to their severity. First, a clean surgery, completely removing pathological tissues. Sometimes it can help judicious use of anti-metabolites. But the most decisive was recognizing the importance of reconstructing the ocular surface by transplants (often of the conjunctiva itself). It is a painless outpatient surgery under local anesthesia.

Today, biological adhesives allow do it without stitches. The postoperative is simple, but a few weeks are needed until the appearance of the eye returns to normal.


These diseases are more common in tropical countries and especially in mountain areas. Epidemiological studies correlate with the UV dose received throughout life, either by geographic cause, or professional sports; sunglasses or even hats are useful for prevention.



  • Gerard Lopez
    "It's a globally acknowledged centre; the Barça football team of the [...]
  • Mario Vargas Llosa
    "One of the great merits of the Barraquer family is that they have always had a [...]
  • Isabel-Clara Simó
    "There is such a thing as the "Barraquer style"; it's unique and [...]
  • See more