Now that summer has officially arrived, it’s important to pay particular attention to the risks of ultraviolet (UV) light. While it is true that most people routinely use sunblock to reduce the risks of skin cancer, not too many realize that your eyes are also susceptible to similar damage from UV rays … and very few realize you can actually see the damage!

    Often patients ask about the yellow-colored raised “bubble” on the inside corner of the white part of their eyes. It is called the Pinguecula, and it is a common, non-cancerous growth in the membrane lining the eyeball and the underside of the eyelids. With repeated exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays, this small section of the conjunctiva near the inside corner of your eye will produce harder, dense yellow-ish nodules. Pinguecula don’t usually cause any symptoms, but there is no cure – the UV damage to your eyes cannot be reversed. That said, it’s important to prevent further UV exposure to avoid a worsening condition called pterygia that can also cause vision problems.


    Aside from the more obvious risks of UV exposure like increased cataracts and macular degeneration, the less known risks like pinguecula are just as important a reason to always wear proper eye protection when you’re outdoors. Although pinguecula are generally harmless, the most serious cases cause cancerous formations around the surface of the eye.

    Unlike a pterygium, a pinguecula will not grow across and cover your cornea. So surgery is rarely used to remove one. However, if the pinguecula becomes a pterygium, grows very large and does not respond to eye drops, or, develops a cancerous growth, surgical options are available.

    As is often the case, the best course of treatment is prevention. It’s easy to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays simply by wearing sunglasses when you’re outdoors. UV-filtering shades are preferred, but even inexpensive sunglasses offer minimal protection, and something is better than nothing! The best choice however, are prescription strength UV-blocking lenses that can block up to 99% of UV light and provide the best means to protect your eyes against the harmful effects of the sun.

    If you’re interested in having your eyes evaluated, or are considering prescription sunglasses to help prevent further damage from UV light, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.

    Posted August 9, 2016 by Silverstein Eye Centers
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