Pterygium & Pinguecula

Buchanan Optometrists can help with the diagnosis and clinical management of these two less well-known conditions.

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A pterygium is an abnormal growth of tissue from the conjunctiva towards the cornea, normally occurring on the nasal side and usually wedge-shaped.

Pterygia are thought to be caused by excessive exposure to particular environmental elements, specifically UV light, but also wind, sand and dust. They are more likely to occur in males and some professions are more at risk eg. surfers, farmers, arc-welders.

A person may notice the formation of a pterygium in their eye, and sometimes it is accompanied by other symptoms such as redness, dryness and irritation. Pterygia are benign, although as they grow over the iris (coloured part of eye) and pupil, the person's vision will be obscured. Also, as the ptyergia alter the shape of the cornea, they cause blurred vision.

Pterygia can be diagnosed by your optometrist. Often eye drops and medications are used to manage dryness and irritation. Surgery is an option for growing and persistent pterygia.

To prevent pterygia forming or returning, it is recommended to:

  • use high quality (100% UV blocking) close-fitting, wraparound sunglasses

  • wear a wide brimmed hat

  • avoid/minimise exposure to the irritating environmental elements


Pingueculae are often confused with, and are similar to pterygia; these growths differ in that pingueculae do not grow over the cornea and obstruct vision.

Eye with Pterygium
Eye with Pinguecula



Buchanan Optometrists Ltd optometry practice in Christchurch is located at Church Corner within the Riccarton Clinic. As an independent optical practice we have the freedom to use suppliers that provide the best service and products to you.

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Monday, Wendsday & Thursday
8:30am -5:30pm
8.30am - 7:00pm
8:30am -4:30pm

First Floor
Riccarton Clinic 
6 Yaldhurst Road
Upper Riccarton 
New Zealand
03 341 4850