Yellow bump on the eye (pinguecula) appears as a slightly raised, thickening of the conjuctiva on the white part of the eye near the cornea. The bump is non-cancerous and can occur at any age, but is most commonly found in middle-aged and elderly persons. In most cases, pinguecula can resolve on its own and does not require any treatment.
The yellow bump on the eye may appear triangular-shaped and is quite small. In rare cases, it can grow quite large, but this is a slow process. If irritated, the bump can swell, but once the irritant is removed, pinguecula will go back to normal.
Usually, pinguecula does not impair vision, unless it grows into the cornea.
Causes of pinguecula
Pinguecula is often caused by exposure to ultraviolet light produced by the sun. Dust exposure and wind has also been known to cause pinguecula. Having dry eye syndrome may also be a contributing factor to pinguecula.
Yellow bump on the eye is commonly seen in older adults who are often exposed to sunlight, but is also common in children who spend many hours outdoor without wearing eye protection like sunglasses.
Pinguecula signs and symptoms
Pinguecula is usually not associated with any particular symptoms, and patients often spot it only when looking in the mirror. Patients may notice that their eyes feel dryer because the bump prevents an even distribution of tears across the eye. Eye dryness may also result in a burning sensation, stinging, itching, blurred vision, and a feeling as if there is something in the eye.
Another sign of pinguecula is the appearance of additional blood vessels.
If pinguecula becomes irritated, it can cause redness and swelling. Irritants include dust, wind, and sunlight.
Difference between pinguecula and pterygium
Pinguecula is often confused with pterygium, but there are key differences to note when diagnosing either condition. Pterygium has a flesh-colored appearance and is usually round or oval. Pterygium is more likely to grow over the cornea, which is not the case for pinguecula. Once pinguecula grows over the cornea, it is then known as pterygium.
Both are benign growths on the eye, and both are linked to exposure to dust, sunlight, and wind.
Treatment options for pinguecula
Majority of pinguecula cases do not require treatment, unless discomfort is experienced or vision is affected. If pinguecula gets painful, your doctor can prescribe eye drops.
If your pinguecula bothers you, your doctor can surgically remove it. This is often the case if it grows over the cornea, if there is extreme discomfort, especially when wearing contact lenses, and if it is constantly inflamed even after treatment has been administered.
Tips to prevent pinguecula
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s important that you protect your eyes from the elements. This requires wearing sunglasses or a hat or visor to keep UV rays out of the eyes. Protective eyewear is also helpful in preventing dust and wind from striking the eyes.
Ensure your sunglasses block out both UVA and UVB rays, and use artificial tear eye drops to keep your eyes well lubricated if necessary.
Should you be worried about pinguecula?
Pinguecula is a benign condition, so you shouldn’t be worried if you develop it. Because it leads to irritation and can make contact wearing difficult, it is a bothersome condition, but treatment can help ease this. It’s important that you see an optometrist whenever there are changes to your eyes to rule out pinguecula from another more serious eye condition.