Pterygium: What You Need to Know
A pterygium is a growth of tissue, including blood vessels, on the eye’s conjunctiva, the clear covering that encloses the white part of the eye. It appears as a pinkish, triangular-shaped growth on the cornea. A pterygium can originate as a pinguecula. It may be small or it may develop enough to cover a portion of the cornea. If this happens, vision may be affected. A pterygium can grow slowly throughout the life of an individual, or it can stop growing at a certain point. In rare cases, a pterygium may develop to the point of covering the pupil of the eye.
What Is Pterygium?
Pterygium is sometimes referred to as Surfer’s Eye due to the fact that pterygia (more than one pterygium) occur more often in sunny environments and are commonly found on individuals who spend a lot of time in the sun. They are also more commonly found in individuals aged 20 to 40. The cause of pterygia is unknown; however, it is thought that ultraviolet light from the sun may be a risk factor. A pterygium can present as several different colors and sizes. It is possible to have more than one growth at a time.
What Are the Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors of Pterygium?
Symptoms of pterygia include a wing-like, raised growth found most commonly on the inner part of the white portion of the eye. While sunlight exposure over time is often thought to be the cause, pterygia can be caused by chronic dry eye or severe exposure to dust and wind conditions.
What Are the Medications and Treatments for Pterygium?
To avoid pterygia and other eye complications, always wear protective eyeglasses, sunglasses or hats that cover the eyes. Due to the visible nature of pterygia, many individuals seek to have the pterygium removed. Fortunately, most pterygia are not particularly noticeable. Removal surgery is not recommended for cosmetic reasons and is typically only suggested if the pterygium is affecting the vision. Pterygia can grow back after being surgically removed, especially if the individual is younger than 40.
Occasionally a pterygium may become red or swollen due to dust or other irritating factors such as air pollution. In these cases, lubricants and lubricating drops may be prescribed to provide relief from redness and irritation.
The best course of action to keep pterygia from becoming enlarged, irritated or recurring is to avoid sunlight, dryness and dust.
How Tucker & Associates Can Help
If you believe you have a pterygium or are experiencing eye irritation and redness in one area of the white of the eye, call Tucker & Associates for a comprehensive eye exam today. The experienced eye care professionals at Tucker & Associates can help determine the best course of action for your eye irritation.