If you’ve noticed a bump on your eye, take a moment to think about when it first appeared. Your eye doctor will need to know how long you’ve had the bump, what kinds of daily activities you perform, and whether you did anything out of the ordinary around the time you first noticed the bump. In most cases, bumps are simply minor irritations that don’t require special treatment; however, only your ophthalmologist can diagnose you properly.
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If the bump on your eye is small and yellow in color, you may have pinguecula. According to the government’s Medline Plus website, pinguecula isn’t harmful unless the bump grows large enough to obstruct your vision. These bumps are not cancerous and are usually treated with eye drops to give your eye extra moisture. Although doctors aren’t sure exactly what causes pinguecula, the bump usually appears on the nasal side of your eye, near the inner eye.
Pterygium is also a noncancerous growth that can affect one or both eyes. It’s usually found on the whites of your eyes and causes a visible protrusion of white tissue. The condition doesn’t cause any pain, but if the bump grows too large, it may start to interfere with your vision. Although there is no special treatment necessary unless the growth blocks your vision, Medline Plus recommends protecting your eyes with sunglasses and a hat anytime you’re outside. Pterygium bumps can be removed surgically if needed, although there’s a possibility the bumps might grow back.
There is a rare type of cancer unique to the eye called intraocular melanoma. According to the American Cancer Society, or ACS, the cancer starts with melanocytes, a type of cell that produces pigment. As with skin cancer, the melanocytes produce colored spots that may grow into tumors. These spots usually appear in and around your iris. The ACS notes that melanoma of the eye rarely spreads and is slow in terms of growth; if you catch it early, the outlook is good.
Ultraviolet Light and Eye Bumps
No one but your eye doctor can diagnose or suggest treatment for bumps on your eye. However, if the growth is noncancerous, there’s a good chance exposure to UV light had something to do with it. According to Dr. David Kisling, a Colorado ophthalmologist, UV exposure can degrade the natural collagen fibers of your eyes, resulting in an overproduction of replacement elastin fibers. That overproduction can sometimes cause eye bumps such as pinguecula. People at particular risk from increased UV exposure include those who live near the equator, motorcyclists and people whose jobs or hobbies cause them to spend lots of time outside, such as farmers or fishermen.
Even if you suspect your eye bump is harmless, you cannot be sure until your ophthalmologist has confirmed your suspicions. Although taking preventive measures such as wearing sunglasses can reduce the incidence of irritant-related eye bumps, you must still have the bump looked at to make sure it’s not part of a systemic disease.