Pinguecula

Definition
A pinguecula is a common, nonmalignant growth of the mucous membrane that lines the eyeball and underside of the eyelids (conjunctiva).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A pinguecula appears as a small, yellowish lesion derived from the conjunctiva. It can appear on either side of the cornea, but usually appears on the nasal side. It may increase in size over many years. The cause is unknown, but chronic sunlight exposure and eye irritation may contribute to its development. Welding is a significant occupational risk.

Symptoms
The main symptom is a yellow or white nodule on the conjunctiva near the cornea.

Signs and tests

An eye examination is often sufficient to diagnose this disorder.

Treatment

Usually no treatment is required. Lubrication with artificial tears and sometimes the temporary use of mild steroid eye drops can be helpful. Rarely, it may need to be removed for discomfort or cosmetic reasons.

Expectations (prognosis)

This condition is benign (non-cancerous) and the outlook is good.

Complications

Excessive growth may extend over the cornea and impair vision.

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if the size, shape, or color of a pinguecula changes.

Prevention

Prevention is unknown. It may help to use good quality sunglasses and avoid eye irritants.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Martin A. Harms, M.D.

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