Pinguecula | Benign Lesion of the Conjunctiva

The pinguecula is a yellow-colored lesion that is slightly protruding and forms on the superficial tissue of the sclera (the white part of the eye). Usually, the pinguecula develops from the nasal corner of the eye towards the cornea, the area most exposed to sunlight.

The pinguecula is a pathology that consists specifically in a degenerative formation of the so-called conjunctival tissue. In most people affected by pinguecula, the first sign detectable with the naked eye is a yellow thickening visible on the conjunctiva.

The Main Causes and Symptoms of the Pinguecula

The pinguecula is a harmless lesion that can essentially be caused by environmental factors: repeated exposure to sunlight without special protection, wind or dust, or even to excessively dry air.

Chronic sun exposure also contributes to the development and worsening of the damage. In fact, there have been cases of pinguecula combined with Gaucher’s disease, a disorder induced by exposure to heat and intense light that mainly affects welders.

The pinguecula can affect anyone at any age, but it is not uncommon to occur more often in people over 40.

pinguecola benign lesion
Image credits: American Optometric Association

Among the most common symptoms of this eye injury, we enumerate:

  • Irritation
  • Itching or redness
  • Dry eyes
  • Inflammation of the conjunctiva

Although the nature of this lesion is benign, it is advisable to prevent its occurrence by always protecting the eyes from the sun with good quality glasses and lenses and from other harmful elements.


Pinguecula Diagnosis and Treatment

The pinguecula is almost always evident to the naked eye, but the diagnosis is made during an eye examination by analyzing the structures affected by the lesion.

The nature of this pathology is always benign, does not affect vision, and for this reason, it does not require treatment. In milder cases, the swelling subsides within 3 to 4 weeks.

In some cases, however, the lesion of the tissue can become inflamed and cause an annoying sense of irritation or dryness: the doctor can therefore treat this discomfort by prescribing artificial tears to promote lubrication or anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce eye swelling. In case of inflammation, cortisone-based eye drops are administered.

In the most extreme cases, the pinguecula can transform into a different pathology called pterygium which can be resolved through microsurgery.