What Causes a Bump on the Eyeball?

Noticing a bump on your eyeball might upset you. Most of the time, bumps on the eyeball happen because of environmental exposure and aren’t harmful. 

Anytime you notice something is off with your eyes, you should talk to a doctor. More serious causes of eyeball bumps, like benign tumors, can cause vision loss. Some cancers can also cause bumps on the eye.

Below, we take a closer look at some types of eyeball bumps and outline symptoms, causes, and treatments for each.

pterygium eye growth or bump

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Pinguecula

A pinguecula is a type of eye growth that occurs on your eye’s white covering, called the conjunctiva. The growth can be made up of fat, protein, or calcium.

Symptoms

A pinguecula presents as a yellow-colored raised growth. Symptoms include:

  • Swelling and redness
  • A sensation of burning in the eye
  • Vision problems, including blurry vision

Is It OK to Wear Contacts If You Have Pinguecula?

It may be difficult or uncomfortable to wear contacts with this condition, as the contact lenses can rub the pinguecula and the friction can cause pingueculitis. You’re probably better off not wearing your contact lenses. Talk to your ophthalmologist to find out when to start wearing your contacts again. 

Causes

Experts believe that this type of eye growth happens because of environmental exposure to UV light, dust particles, and wind. Repeated exposure to sunny, windy, sandy conditions can cause this type of growth.

Treatment

Lubrication may help with pain or discomfort. 

When to See a Doctor for a Growth on Your Eye

If pinguecula is painful, you may have inflammation and should talk to a doctor about medication. If you have excess swelling and redness, a doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops, such as prednisolone. If you suspect an infection, see a doctor right away to prevent possible complications. 

Pterygium

A pterygium is a growth that may start as a pinguecula. It can also happen spontaneously.

Symptoms

Sometimes, as mentioned, a pinguecula growth turns into a pterygium. However, pterygia look different. They’re fleshy in color and contain blood vessels. They can change your prescription and can, in rare cases, distort vision. Like a pinguecula, a pterygium growth may also cause inflammation and discomfort in the eye.

Causes

Like a pinguecula, a pterygium happens because of environmental exposure. A pterygium is also called surfer’s eye (which may refer to pinguecula as well). People who spend a lot of time in windy, sunny conditions may have a higher risk of developing this type of eye growth.

Treatment

Treatment for this type of growth is the same as a pinguecula growth. However, if a pterygium gets too big, surgery may be necessary.

Conjunctival Tumor

Conjunctival tumors can be benign or malignant. Because they are visible, an early diagnosis is more likely than with eye cancer that doesn’t present visually. If you notice a bump on your eyeball, don’t assume it’s benign. Make an appointment with an ophthalmologist to get a definitive diagnosis.

Symptoms

Symptoms of malignant melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma of the outer eye include:

  • Reddish or white spot with blood vessels around it
  • Freckle on the eye 
  • Change in pigmentation in the eye

Causes

Cancer can develop for several reasons. Melanoma of the eye is linked to sunlight exposure but may have other causes.

Treatment

Treatment depends on when the carcinoma is detected and how advanced it is. Some types of eye cancer respond well to chemotherapy drops. Malignant melanoma requires a more invasive treatment approach, such as surgery. Cryotherapy and radiation are other possible treatment options. 

Conjunctival Lymphoma

Eye lymphoma is a type of cancer that specifically affects the eye, and it can affect multiple parts of the eye. Many people who develop eye lymphoma get it in both eyes.

Conjunctival lymphoma is a cancer that specifically appears on the surface of the eye. The bump typically has a pink-colored hue and is painless.

Symptoms

Symptoms other than a bump on the eye may include:

  • Vision problems like blurriness, vision loss, and floaters
  • Swelling and redness in the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Pain, which can occur but is an unlikely symptom

Causes

Risk factors for this type of eye cancer include:

  • Advanced age
  • Compromised immune system function 

People taking immunosuppressants or who have diseases that affect the immune system may have a higher risk of developing this type of cancer.

There’s also evidence that conjunctival lymphoma may occur as a response to certain infections or viruses, such as Chlamydophila psittaci.

Treatment

Treatment for conjunctival lymphoma typically involves removing the tumor. Other treatments include:

  • Cryotherapy
  • Chemotherapy injection
  • Radiation

Limbal Dermoid

This eyeball growth isn’t usually a cause for concern, but you’ll probably want to have it removed regardless. 

Symptoms

A limbal dermoid has a few distinguishing features, including:

  • Pale yellow color
  • Tiny hairs

Causes

There’s no known cause for this type of eye growth. 

Treatment

Most of the time, treatment isn’t necessary unless there is an infection or the growth interferes with vision. If there’s irritation, steroid eye drops can help. If the growth is affecting vision, a doctor can surgically remove it.

Limbal Dermoid in Children

Most limbal dermoids in adults are harmless, but they should be carefully monitored in children. Limbal dermoids may affect a child’s vision and cause vision problems down the road. 

Chemosis

Chemosis is a swelling of the conjunctiva caused by irritation.

Symptoms

This condition causes swelling that may look like a bump on the outer surface of the eyeball. The swelling may be so severe that closing the eye is difficult. 

Causes

This kind of eye swelling can happen because of an infection, allergies, or inflammation. Physical irritation may also cause chemosis.

Treatment

Allergy medication and the application of a cold compress may help reduce swelling. Swelling that starts to impair vision requires immediate attention.

A Word From Verywell

While you’ll often hear advice about checking your skin for skin cancer, you probably hear less about the importance of checking your eyes for odd changes and growths. Like most skin freckles and moles, most changes in your eyes are harmless. However, some growths and pigment changes may signal serious conditions like cancer. 

It may be difficult to tell if something is wrong with your eyes. While a big bump is noticeable, other changes, like tiny freckles, may be harder to spot. You should get regular eye exams to keep tabs on your eye health—even if you don’t wear glasses.

If you notice a growth in your eye, it is concerning, but you can take steps quickly to have it addressed. See a doctor and get it checked out. 

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Article Sources
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