What is Pinguecula?
Pinguecula is a fairly common non-cancerous disease of the conjunctiva. This condition is characterized by a yellowish and slightly raised thickening of the conjunctiva on top of the sclera near the edge of the cornea. The part where the pinguecula occurs is the part of the sclera in constant exposure to the sun resulting from unprotected exposure of the eye to the sunlight. The term pinguecula was derived from the Latin word “pinguis” which means grease or fat.
Pinguecula is a common disease of the conjunctiva that normally occurs to middle-aged and older people as brought by years of their exposure under the sun. It can also occur to people of younger age even in children although the incidence is less common.
Prognosis is this degenerative conjunctival disease is good as it is a non-cancerous tumor that can be treated and removed and with histological revelation of an alteration in the normal tissue brought by protein and fat deposit and may be a response to an eye irritation.
Pinguecula is generally asymptomatic although there are some patients who tend to have symptoms relevant to the manifestation of the disease and this may include:
- Development of yellowish nodule on the conjunctiva
- Eye irritation
- Dryness of the eye
- Occasional swelling of the conjunctiva
- Occasional redness of the eye resulting from irritation
- Chronic sensation of foreign body in the affected eye
- Excessive discomfort of the eye as a result of dryness and irritation and sensation of foreign body
When a pinguecula becomes swollen and irritated, secondary condition may occur in the form of pingueculitis which is the result of aggravation from dust, wind, dry condition, prolonged unprotected exposure to sunlight and other factor whether environmental or chemical. The growth of pinguecula gradually increases over the years while no medical intervention has been applied or done during the course of the condition.
The exact cause of pinguecula remains unknown although there are risk factors being considered that contribute to the onset of the growth. Contributing factors leading to pinguecula include:
- Constant and prolonged exposure to sunlight without wearing protected gear
- Ultraviolet ray and infrared radiation exposure
- Occupational risk such as farmers and fishermen
- Outdoor activities requiring significant amount of time under the sun such as those engage in golf and gardening
- Potentially at high risk for pinguecula are those working with welding machines
- Dust and wind exposure
- Dry condition
- Exposure to chemicals that can worsen the tissue damage in the conjunctiva
Pinguecula can be seen with a naked eye and doctors can confirm through external observation but they can also utilize a slit lamp to further verify or confirm the condition. Slit lamp is a microscope attached with a light source and magnifies the structures of the eye.
Most cases of Pinguecula require no medical treatment except for severe cases when vision is interfered and altered and when quality of life or daily activities are hindered by the condition. There are medications however that can be prescribed to relieve the symptoms such as:
Artificial tears are lubricant that helps relieve the symptom of dry eyes and discomfort while reducing minor injection of blood vessels.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or steroidal eye drops may be prescribed to relieve swelling and inflammation of the conjunctiva of the affected eye.
Mitomycin-C is a topical anti-cancer drug that is use to treat severe cases of pinguecula and in preventing its recurrence.
Prevention of the disease on the other has no definite method either. Most doctors would recommend wearing of sunglasses and sun shields when going out under the sun to protect the eyes from the glare while inhibiting or reducing the effect ultraviolet rays that is greatly implicated to the onset of pinguecula. Other method of preventing the condition may include:
- Sufficient intake of Vitamin A which is essential for healthy eyes while helping in reducing the symptom of eye irritation. Such foods rich in Vitamin A are the likes of carrots, corn, mangoes, and apricots and other fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin A.
- Intake of Vitamin C and Vitamin E are antioxidants that help in fighting degeneration of cells with sources from food such as citrus fruits, vegetables such as sweet potatoes and garlic.
- Eye dryness can be alleviated with food containing essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6. These fatty oils are in essential in the production of prostaglandins that is vital in maintaining the suppleness and moisture of the skin and eye tissue
Surgery can be done for cosmetic purposes or when wearing of contact lenses are necessary yet unable to do so because of the present condition which can be further aggravated by wearing contact lenses. Patient have the option if they want it remove especially when it gets in the way of their daily activities affecting the quality of life while it is discomforting or most of the time. The procedure is especially advised by doctors or ophthalmologist when the nodular growth is greatly affecting the cornea that can alter the visuals or that may lead to visual deficiency. Only licensed health professionals or ophthalmologist can perform the surgical procedure.
The process of removing the pingueculum usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes in the operating room or surgery room of eye center.
Health care staff will have the patient lie down in the gurney and will be given IV. The patient will be sedated to numb from feeling pain and discomfort during the course of the removal procedure. A patch will be put on the affected area while the patient can go home after the surgery although they are required to have somebody with them and to bring them home as the patient will remain sedate until the next day following surgery.
Patient will immediately have to follow the prescribed therapeutic regimen as soon as the eye patch has been removed to promote healing while preventing infection.
Picture collection of Pinguecula…