Contact Us
Find A Doctor

Pterygium and Pinguecula

What is a pterygium?

A pterygium (from the Greek word for “wing”) is an abnormal growth of tissue that extends from the conjunctiva (a membrane that covers the white of the eye) onto the cornea. Typically, a pterygium presents as a pinkish, triangular tissue that generally grows slowly, but in some cases  may become so large it covers the pupil. Smaller pterygia can cause dryness, redness, burning, itching and/or an unacceptable cosmetic appearance. Larger pterygia can cause blurred vision by altering the shape of the cornea, or producing astigmatism. Pterygia are more common in areas of the world nearest the equator.  They are associated with early exposure to the sun, especially during childhood and teen years.

What is a pinguecula?

A pterygium may be confused with a pingueculum. A pingueculum looks like a yellowish patch or bump on the white surface (sclera) of the eye. It grows on the conjunctiva, similar to a pterygium, but does not grow over the cornea. A pingueculum is a benign degeneration of the conjunctiva. It is caused by damage from exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun.

How are pterygium and pingueculas treated?

Most pterygia are treated with artificial tear drops that relieve irritation and burning. Anti-allergy drops or even anti-inflammatory drops may be used for more significant symptoms. If vision is affected or if the pterygia becomes enlarged, surgical removal may be necessary. To prevent  regrowth of the pterygium (which can be a late complication), surgeons may transplant conjunctiva from another part of the eye to the area where the pterygium was removed, as well as use anti-metabolite drugs or apply radiation to the area. Pinguecula, on the other hand, are usually asymptomatic and may be treated conservatively with artificial tears and anti-inflammatory drops. Rarely do they require surgery. 

Contact Us

Eye Faculty PracticeTel: 212-979-4500

Address310 E. 14th Street
South Building, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003

Eye ClinicTel: 212-979-4192

Address310 E. 14th Street
South Building, 1st Floor
New York, NY 10003

Tribeca OfficeTel: 212-966-3901

Address77 Worth StreetNew York, NY 10013

Columbus CircleTel: 212-957-6933

Address200 West 57th Street, Suite 1410New York, NY 10019

Upper East SideTel: 212-731-3355

Address234 East 85th StreetNew York, NY 10028

Ophthalmology FPATel: 212-241-0939

Address17 East 102nd StreetNew York, NY 10029

Midwood OfficeTel: 718-375-6933

Address1630 East 15th Street
Second Floor (Suite 203)
Brooklyn, NY 11229

Williamsburg OfficeTel: 718-384-6933

Address101 Broadway, Suite 201Brooklyn, NY 11249

Mineola OfficeTel: 516-408-4900

Address200 Old Country Road
Suite 125
Mineola, NY 11501

Westchester OfficeTel: 914-934-5280

Address90 S Ridge StreetRye Brook, NY 10573

View all locations

Find a Doctor

by Specialty by Name
Request a Referral