Learn the most common lesions of the eye and the symptoms, causes, and treatments for each.
Ocular lesions (growths in and around the eye or eyelid) are relatively common and come in many shapes, sizes, and associated risks. To protect their eyes, patients should be aware of the different lesions of the eye and their respective symptoms, causes, and treatments.
Ocular lesions, or lesions of the eye, refer to a variety of growths, bumps, and lumps that occur in and around the eye or eyelid. There are many types of ocular lesions. Some are completely harmless, while others may be signs of infections or other eye conditions.
In serious cases, lesions of the eye may be an early sign of cancerous growth. This is why healthcare professionals often sort ocular lesions into benign lesions (non-cancerous) and malignant lesions (cancerous lesions).
Most lesions are benign, but because of the risk posed by malignant lesions, patients should see their eye doctor if they notice any unknown bumps or growths on their eye.
The symptoms for lesions of the eye vary depending on where on the eye they are and the specific condition they are associated with. Some common signs that a patient has an ocular lesion are:
The appearance of a bump or lump on the eyelid
Redness or inflammation
Pain and discomfort
Itching and burning around the eye or eyelid
A lump or bump that obstructs vision
There are numerous types of ocular lesions, each with its unique symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
Bacterial and viral infections
Injuries such as scratches and burns
Exposure to the sun
Treatment for lesions of the eye will depend on the specific type of lesion the patient has.
If the lesion is the result of a viral or bacterial infection, the eye doctor may prescribe a topical antibiotic or antiviral medication. For ocular lesions caused by inflammation, the doctor may recommend a steroid or anti-inflammatory drug.
In cases where patients have a potentially malignant (cancerous) growth, doctors will often perform surgery to remove the tumor.
There are numerous types of lesions of the eye, with unique symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
Pterygiums are one of the most common types of ocular lesions. They are growths of pinkish tissue on the inner corner of the eye. A pterygium may start small but can grow and end up covering part of the cornea, potentially affecting your vision.
Pterygiums are caused by irritants like exposure to sunlight, wind, dust, or chronic dry eye syndrome. Patients can prevent this lesion of the eye by wearing sunglasses. Eye drops can also keep the eye clean and lubricated, and protect the eye's membrane against dryness.
If a pterygium begins to affect a patient's vision, surgery is usually the best option. The procedure will depend on the size and growth rate, but most will involve the removal of the pterygium.
A pinguecula is a small, raised, yellowish-colored growth that occurs in the conjunctiva — the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eyes. Causes of pinguecula include UV exposure, irritation from wind and dust, and age-related eye changes.
For the most part, pinguiculas are harmless. If they are not uncomfortable or interfering with vision, doctors may consider treatment as not necessary. If the pinguicula becomes visually disruptive, or patients simply don’t like the appearance, eye doctors can remove it with surgery.
A conjunctival cyst is a non-cancerous (benign) growth in the conjunctiva. These types of cysts may start small and not cause many symptoms. As the cyst grows, patients may experience swollen eyelids, feelings of an object in the eye, and problems closing their eyes.
If there are no serious symptoms, conjunctival cysts may not require treatment. If the cyst becomes disruptive, a doctor may recommend lubricating or steroid eye drops. The cyst may also be removed with a minor surgical procedure.
Conjunctival melanosis is a pigmented lesion that resembles a freckle. There are several types of conjunctival melanosis that vary in severity.
Complexion-associated melanosis (CAM): An increased pigmentation in the conjunctiva, seen in people with darker skin. This type of melanosis is typically harmless and normal for people with certain skin pigmentations.
Primary acquired melanosis (PAM): Involves an irregular flat increased pigmentation on the conjunctiva. It may be harmless in its onset but can become cancerous. It requires close monitoring.
Even potentially serious melanosis types may not show symptoms until later stages. This makes it crucial for patients to have regular comprehensive eye exams — where a doctor can diagnose the issue.
CAM and other types of benign melanosis typically don’t require treatment. PAM may require a biopsy or a surgical procedure to prevent the risk of it turning into melanoma.
Conjunctival malignant melanoma is a rare but serious form of eye cancer. The cancer may look like a brown spot in the conjunctiva. Patients may appear symptomless during the onset of the condition, so they must see their eye doctor if they notice unusual eye coloring.
When a patient is diagnosed with conjunctival malignant melanoma, doctors typically recommend one of three treatment options: surgery, cryotherapy, or radiation.
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