• What Is a Pinguecula and a Pterygium (Surfer's Eye)?

    Written by: Kierstan Boyd
    Reviewed by: Elizabeth Yeu MD
    Mar. 01, 2017

    Pinguecula and pterygium are growths on your eye’s conjunctiva, the clear covering over the white part of the eye.

    Pinguecula is a growth that looks like a yellow spot or bump on the conjunctiva. It often appears on the side of the eye near your nose. A pinguecula is a deposit of protein, fat, or calcium.

    Pterygium is a growth of fleshy tissue that may start as a pinguecula. It can remain small or grow large enough to cover part of the cornea. When this happens, it can affect your vision.


    Both pinguecula and pterygium are believed to be caused by having dry eyes. These growths may also be caused by exposure to wind, dust, and ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun.

    Avoiding pinguecula and pterygium

    lf you have had a pinguecula or a pterygium at least once before, try to avoid the things that cause these growths. Here are some ways:

    • wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) light
    • protect your eyes from dust by wearing glasses or goggles
    • use artificial tears when your eyes are very dry