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Your optometrist was right (shame on your doctor for calling the opto stupid). I'm 99.9% positive you have pingueculae - search the net and you'll find thousands of references. They are indeed caused by dryness and sun damage, and are very common. The redness is due to inflammation. I have them in both eyes, but only the left was inflamed at one point. My optometrist suggested preservative-free moisture drops, lots of water, and a tablespoon of flax oil everyday. This brought the inflammation down in 4-5 days. 6 months later, it became inflamed again and stayed this way for two weeks. I got worried and went back to the opto; he gave me a prescription for mild steriod drops that nixed the redness with the first dose (didn't even have to take the full 3 day treatment). Good luck!

For your info, here's a brief description:
A pinguecula (pin gwe' cue la) is a benign, whitish or yellowish growth that forms on the conjunctiva. They usually grow near the cornea on the nasal side. Pingueculae (plural form of pinguecula) are thought to be caused by ultraviolet light and are most common among people who spend a great deal of time outdoors. This growth does not affect vision, but may cause irritation if it becomes elevated.

Signs and Symptoms
Pingueculae are harmless growths and rarely cause symptoms, just a yellowish, raised area on the conjunctiva. Sometimes there is irritation and scratchiness, dry eye, occasional inflammation of the conjunctiva and redness if the area becomes irritated.

Detection and Diagnosis
Pingueculae can often be seen with the naked eye; however, the doctor diagnoses the growth with a careful examination with a slit lamp microscope.

Treatment
Because of their benign nature, pingueculae rarely require treatment. Occasionally, the growth may become inflamed, causing irritation and dryness. The doctor may prescribe artificial tears for lubrication and mild anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling.
Aussie girl,

There are lots of surgeons in Australia who can excise these growths from your eyes. I had two on the two sides of my eyes on both eyes and had to have surgery to remove them.

Susan
Hello, I am a 24 yr old female and I have had a pinguecula in both eyes for a few years now. My eyes are also very dry, which I feel is partially due to the pinguecula because my problem started getting worse when the pingueculum did. However, the opthamologist I was seeing seems to disagree and not really care about all the agony this is causing me. He told me it would just come back and make my eye more dry. For the past year or so my eyes have been almost constantly irritated and the pingueculum are getting worse and worse. I have 2 plugs in each eye to try to increase the moisture, which has helped somewhat, but my eyes are still always irritated, imflamed, and tired. After seeing this doctor for a few months, paying $500 for plugs and putting drops in my eyes about every hour, I decided to do some research myself. On 3/28, I will be having the larger pinguecula removed at Harvard Eye Institute. The doctor there told me he thought it would make my eyes less dry and that with the graft procedure the reccurence rate is 1%. Im scared because I have doctors telling me different things, but I am confident that the doctors at Harvard Eye know what they are doing. All I know is that I cant go on any longer with my eyes in this condition. The downfall is that because it hasnt grown onto the cornea, its not covered by insurance, so I have to pay $2200, which I am financing. At this point, I'll pay anything. I agree with a lot of people on here that most doctors think that its only cosmetic, but I feel that if they had to deal with this, they would think otherwise (I even told the last dr that and he seemed offended). Anyway, I hope all goes well and I will keep anyone updated thats interested.
Hi Kayti - I think that's great you made the decision to do something about your pinguecula. I'm sure the surgery will go fine. I've heard good things about Harvard Eye and the procedure they use. Please let me know how things go. I live in Ca (SF Bay Area) and have often thought of making the drive down there to get an opinion from someone. I got a pinguecula a few years ago, but I don't seem to have any problems with redness, inflammation, or dryness. My ophthalmologist here thinks I'd be crazy to have it removed because it's so small. But once in a while it kind of bothers me knowing that it's there. I'm sure you understand what I mean. I'm sorry your ophth. hasn't been more sympathetic to your condition. That's just awful when they don't listen to you. I hope you get the relief you seek from having this surgery. Having dry, irritated eyes all the time is not fun! Okay, good luck tomorrow. I'm sure everything will work out great. Please let me know how you're doing, when you feel up to it.

Jen





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