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Pinguecula

Definition

A pinguecula is a common, non-cancerous growth of the mucus membrane lining the eyeball and underside of the eyelids (conjunctiva).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause is unknown, but chronic sunlight exposure and eye irritation may contribute to its development. Welding is a significant occupational risk.

Symptoms

A pinguecula is a small, yellowish nodule on the conjunctiva near the cornea. It can appear on either side of the cornea, but usually appears on the nose (nasal) side. It may increase in size over many years.

Signs and tests

An eye examination is often enough to diagnose this disorder.

Treatment

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

Expectations (prognosis)

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

Complications

The pingeucula may grow 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

It is not known whether this condition can be prevented. It may help to wear good quality sunglasses and avoid eye irritants.


Review Date: 10/6/2008
Reviewed By: Paul B. Griggs, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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