Any change in the appearance of the eyes can be concerning to those affected – and a bump or lump on the eyeball can be particularly worrying. There are four main causes of the appearance of bumps or lumps on the white of the eyeball – here we explain them in more detail, so you can understand how to resolve the issue.
A pterygium will often appear either wedge-shaped or elongated and either white or pink in colour. There’s no definitive cause for these, but if you’re regularly exposed to irritants like dust or wind, or spend a lot of time in the harmful UV rays of the sun, the chance of a pterygium (sometimes known as farmer’s eye or surfer’s eye) may be higher.
While they’re not harmful, they may grow over the cornea and affect your vision if left untreated – it can also make wearing contact lenses impossible. Doctors may prescribe medicated eye drops – or surgery is an option if your pterygium starts to cause problems.
These are more common in men than women. They’re small white or yellow lumps on the eyeball that are made of protein, calcium or fat. There are various different causes: like a pterygium, they can result from exposure to dust, wind or UV light – but can also be caused simply by ageing.
Symptoms can include itching, dry eyes, burning, redness, tearing and blurred vision – and a pinguecula may sometimes develop into a pterygium. You may be prescribed medicated eye drops, or treatment could be as simple as wearing sunglasses regularly when outside, or applying artificial tear drops.
Found mainly in children, limbal dermoids are non-cancerous tumours which grow over both the coloured and the white part of the eye. Normally white in colour, they are generally harmless but can affect vision if they grow too big. In cases like these, surgery is the only treatment.
These grow on the membrane on either the white or coloured part of the eye and can take different forms – a small bump, a fixed shape or a fleshy growth. Some are benign, while others can be pre-cancerous or cancerous. Cancerous conjunctival tumours are more common in older people, those with weak immune systems and those carrying the HPV virus.
Treatment is carried out in one of three ways – cryotherapy (freezing), chemotherapy or surgery.
When to consult a doctor
If a bump on your eye is causing irritation, pain or vision problems or is growing, it’s well worth seeing your doctor to rule out serious causes. Once lost, it’s rare that sight returns, so if you’re worried, get checked out immediately.