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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 11313
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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Small bump on the white of my eye

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Hi, I have a small bump on the white part of my eye. It looks almost like a whitehead zit. See here:
And just as backstory, in that area of my eye I have always had a red bump there. I've had it for about 15 years (I'm 32 now). When my parents took me to the eye Dr back when it first appeared, the Dr said it was basically a "mole on my eye" (I think he was speaking in laymen's terms) and that unless it gets big or changes, I could just leave it there. If it bothered me cosmetically I could have it removed, but I said no.
So here I am 15 years later, and about a week or so ago it changed to be more like a white bump during a trip to Arizona (I live in Seattle). My eye had been having issues for a few weeks prior when I was still in Seattle, with the other side of my eye being really red and dry. I was constantly putting in Visine Tears to try and make the red go away, but it wasn't until I got back to a more humid climate (Seattle) that it finally went away. My whole eye was just red for a while.
I have always had problems with this eye getting red and dry. About 5 years ago my eye Dr gave me steroid eye drops so my eye would heal after I kept putting Visine "get the red out" drops in my eyes, and that worked after about a week and he told me to stop using Visine "get the red out" drops. And contact lenses would always make my eyes red, so I've just permanently switched to glasses about 10 years ago.
Anyway, my eye Dr has always known about the red bump here and never was concerned, but just last week it's changed to this:
I have an eye Dr appointment on Tuesday to see him, but I wanted an opinion before I go. What is it? What can be done to get rid of it? Should I be concerned?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Eye
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.

I'm happy to answer your question today.

Thanks for the picture. That is called a pinguecula.

It sounds like what you have is called a pinguecula. This is a change in the skin around the eye (conjunctiva) from a lifetime's worth of exposure to sunlight. It is not a cancer. It also can become irritated and red at times.
This is a pterygium. As you can see one of the major differences between a pterygium and a pinguecula is that a pterygium grows across the clear part of your eye (cornea).
If you are bothered by your pinguecula it can be surgically removed fairly easily by your ophthalmologist using local anesthesia. One word of caution however.....they have the nasty habit of growing back, sometimes with a vengeance.

Does this make sense to you?


Stop the visine....that will just irritate things. Use natural tears to soothe it. These things get red from time to time and it is of no consequence.....Steroids work great but that is kinda like using a nuclear bomb to stop a lone tank from attacking your town -- works just fine but may have unwanted side effects....

Like I said above, these things are best left alone as they tend to grow back, sometimes with a vengeance.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi, yes that makes sense. I definitely don't want to do surgery if I don't have to. Is there any kind of eye drop or anything that I can take to reduce the size or to take the girth of it down a bit? It just seems kinda like a big bump.
And what causes it? How would sunlight make it into a bump like that? Just curious.
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.
Let me know if you would like to discuss this topic further.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Are these OK to use?
Or should I stop using this as well?
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.
No. Sorry. No drop to reduce it's size. But when it is not red it should not be so noticeable....
No. That type of visine is a lubricating drop that doesn't have the "get the red out" stuff in it. That will be just fine to use.
Thanks for the links -- makes it easy to be sure we are both talking about the same thing :o)
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Very helpful, thanks... one last question I see that there is a thing called "pingueculitis" which is when it gets inflamed.
What determines if it's been inflamed? Is mine inflamed? I guess I'm just curious why the sudden change to a larger bump over the last week or two.
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.
You are correct. That is exactly what that means. Why has yours got bigger lately? When it is inflamed it gets thicker and red. Many times it comes back down when it quiets down, but sometimes not to the same size it was before it was irritated.
Like I said, it is not a cancer and there is a strong possibility it will grow back if you have it surgically excised....many time much worse then if you just left it alone.
Talk to your ophthalmologist when you see her next week and see what she recommends.....and then leave it alone :o)
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