Pronounced “ter-idg-ee-um”, a pterygium is a wedge-shaped growth of thickened tissue that covers the white part of the eye. It usually starts growing near the inside corner of the eye, and can extend onto the cornea towards the pupil. A pterygium can affect eyesight and cause other annoying symptoms. In these cases, it can be surgically removed. Pterygiums are not cancerous. Their growth is usually very slow and surgery is not always required.
Pronounced “pin-gwek-you-lum”, a pingueculum is similar to a pterygium. It is usually a soft yellow mass confined to the white part of the eye. It too can be surgically removed in the same way as a pterygium, but this is rarely necessary.
While the causes of both conditions are unknown, pterygiums and pingueculums are more likely to develop in people who work outdoors and spend a lot of time in the sun, wind and dust.
A-Z of common eye conditions
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