Eye Growths: Pinguecula and Pterygium

Have you been told that you have a pinguecula or a pterygium? These are two very common growths we see on the eye.


A pinguecula is a tiny yellowish, slightly raised growth found on the white part of the eye just on the border of the coloured part. They are often found in middle aged or older people who spend a lot of time in the sun, but they can also be found in younger people including children who are often outdoors without sunglasses or hats.

In most cases a pinguecula will not cause any problems. However, if they are irritated, it will cause a scratchy itchy feeling in the eye. They may become inflamed and red with exposure to the sun, dust, wind and very dry conditions.

Treatment of a Pinguecula

For mild cases the best form of treatment is protective eyewear whenever you are exposed to the sun. A good pair of wrap-around sunglasses will usually do the trick. Moisture drops can help with the redness and scratchy feeling caused by a pinguecula. Always consult your eye doctor before using an over the counter eye drop.

Surgery is normally recommended when the pinguecula is greatly inflamed and affects your vision or blinking.


A pterygium is a triangular or wedged shaped growth on the white part of the eye. In some cases a pterygium can grow over the cornea and affect your vision. A pterygium is caused by long term exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun.

Just like a pinguecula, a pterygium is normally harmless. It may become red and inflamed on occasion and sometimes they become thick and swollen. This may cause a slight discomfort and become cosmetically unappealing.

In cases where the pterigium becomes very large, it grows onto the cornea and can cause astigmatism.

Treatment of a Pterygium

Lubricating eye drops work well to relieve any redness or discomfort. Consult your eye doctor before using any over the counter eye drop.

Surgery is recommended in cases where the pterygium is growing over the cornea and affecting vision. Unfortunately, a pterygium may re-grow after surgical removal and the re-growth is sometimes worse than the initial growth.

Again, a good pair of wrap-around sunglasses can protect your eyes from all angles.

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    Eye Growths: Stye and Chalazion

    A stye is a little growth that looks like a pimple on the eyelid. It can be either on the outer or inner eyelid. It can occur at any age and is normally not serious and does not affect vision.

    Signs that you are developing a stye

    You may notice slight pain, redness, swelling and sensitivity on the affected eyelid. After a day or two, a pimple develops.

    You may also get slight watering of the eye, sensitivity to light and a scratchy feeling in the eye.

    What Causes a Stye?

    A stye is caused by staphylococcal bacteria which is present in the nose. This bacteria is easily transferred when you touch your nose and then your eye.

    Everyone has this stye causing bacteria in their body, so we all have the potential of developing a stye. If you do have a stye, you can pass this bacteria onto another person, causing them to develop a stye. So always wash your hands and maintain good hygiene.

    Treating a Stye

    Most styes heal by themselves within a few days to a week. Applying warm compressions to the eye for 10-15 minutes about 4 times a day, normally speeds up recovery. This will relieve any pain and discomfort. The stye will eventually rupture, drain and heal.

    Never pop a stye like a pimple. This normally makes the condition worse. If you continue to develop styes, your ophthalmologist can prescribe an antibiotic to prevent recurrence.


    A chalazion is an enlarged blocked oil gland underneath the top or bottom eyelid. At first it may resemble a stye and then becomes a painless hard round bump. The contents of the chalazion are pus and fatty deposits that normally help lubricate the eye.

    Treatment of a Chalazion

    Most chalazia drain on their own with the help of warm compressions and lid massages.

    Occasionally they become larger and may be persist for weeks and even months and become cosmetically unappealing. In this case an ophthalmologist can surgically remove it with a simple in office procedure.

    In cases where a chalazion continues to grow in the same area or has a suspicious appearance, a sample will be taken for lab analysis and determine if it is cancerous.

    Fortunately most chalazia are harmless.

    If you notice any unusual growths in and around the eye area, always consult your optometrist or ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

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