Two kinds of noncancerous (benign) growths commonly develop on the conjunctiva—pinguecula and pterygium. They both are more common among older people and probably occur as a result of long-term ultraviolet radiation exposure. Doctors easily recognize these growths by their typical appearance.
This is a raised yellowish white growth next to, but not overlapping, the cornea (the translucent part of the eye). This growth can be unsightly, but it generally does not cause any significant problems and does not need to be removed.
This is a fleshy growth of the conjunctiva next to the cornea that spreads across the cornea. Most pterygia do not cause symptoms, but sometimes they cause irritation or distort the shape of the cornea, possibly causing a change in vision. Sometimes removal is appropriate to reduce irritation and to prevent changes in vision.
Last full review/revision June 2008 by Mitchell H. Friedlaender, MD