Are the symptoms of a pinguecula bad? Any permanent problems?

No, mainly dryness. Pingueculae are areas of elastoic degeneration or sun damage on the conjunctiva. They rarely present any permanent problems, but can be irritating because they dry out more than normal conjunctiva. Lubricant drops help, and if very bothersome, a short course of topical low dose steroid drops can be used.
Rare a problem. Pingueclua are a normal response to wind, dust and uv light. They are the eyes defense in the middle years to these external forces. They have no symptoms and are usually unnoticed Rarely they might get very large and unsightly. They do not cause any permanent problems.