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What causes tiny white bumps on the eyeball?

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Quick Answer

Tiny white bumps on the eyeball may be caused by sun exposure or damage to the conjunctiva due to wind or dust, notes Summit Medical Group. Pinguecula or pterygium are the most widely recognized benign growths on the surface of the eye.

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Full Answer

Pinguecula manifest as small bumps on the white part of the eye, usually on the side closest to the nose. They are usually clear, or a pale yellowish color, according to Summit Medical Group. Pterygium is a similar growth, however it is usually slightly reddish in color because it contains blood vessels. A pterygium may grow over time and interfere with vision, particularly if the growth extends over part of the cornea.

Both pterygium and pinguecula are likely caused by prolonged sun exposure, chronic dry eye, or unprotected exposure to airborne dust particles and wind, as detailed by WebMD. Pterygium is known as surfer's eye because it frequently affects surfers. Pinguecula are also common in elderly patients, according to Healthline. The exact causes of these growths are not fully understood by doctors as of 2015.

People with pinguecula or pterygium growths often experience no symptoms. In these cases, the growths do not require medical treatment. Minor irritation caused by the growths may be alleviated with over-the-counter eyedrops, notes Summit Medical Group. Surgery may be an option for growths that are especially irritating or interfere with vision.

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