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What is Pterygium – and How Dangerous is It?

Pterygium is a funny sounding word, but there’s nothing funny about its effect on your eyes.

Pterygium, which is pronounced te-ri-jē-əm, is commonly referred to as Surfer’s Eye.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “a pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that starts in the clear, thin tissue (conjunctiva) of the eye. This growth covers the white part of the eye (sclera) and extends onto the cornea. It is often slightly raised and contains visible blood vessels. The problem may occur on one or both eyes.”

Eye specialists know how to handle this mysterious affliction that is most commonly found in people with excessive exposure to sunlight and dust in windblown areas.  The groups most at risk for developing pterygium includes individuals who work outdoors or those who engage in outdoor activities such as fishing, golfing and surfing.

The good news: Pterygium often looks a lot worse than it is – and it can go away with no treatment or with minimal treatment that includes ointments or eye drops. In some cases, laser surgery can take care of pterygium however. Your eye care specialist can easily assess the degree of your particular pterygium case.

So how do you know if you have developed pterygia? Warning signs include:

  • irritation
  • persistent redness
  • inflammation
  • dryness
  • itching
  • burning
  • a feeling of a foreign body sensation
  • a visually detectable cloudy spot on the eye – although vision is not always affected.

The eye care specialists at Global Eye & Laser Center assure us that most pterygia do not cause problems and can simply be left alone. However, people may not like the look of pterygium when it has formed a cloudy spot on the eye, and may want it removed for aesthetic reasons.

But here is why you don’t want to ignore the worsening symptoms or the disease. In advanced cases of pterygium, the growth may affect vision as it extends onto the cornea and presents the potential of induced astigmatism and corneal scarring.

Rather than risk your vision, you should seek out a top-ranked eye specialist to arrange surgical treatment.

The top 3 reasons to opt for surgery:

  1. If symptoms persist and are no longer affected by conservative treatment.
  2. If the growth invades the cornea towards the pupil, obstructing vision.
  3. For cosmetic reasons, when the pterygium becomes unsightly.

The WebMD website notes, “If the lesion causes persistent discomfort or interferes with vision, it can be surgically removed during an outpatient procedure. You and your doctor may also take into account appearance and the size of the pterygium when making a decision about surgery.”

The ball is in your court. If you spend a lot of time outdoors – and if you have several of the warning signs of pterygium – you may want to arrange a free consultation with Southern California’s #1 eye specialists.

Global Laser Vision
Huntington Beach
  • 18632 Beach Blvd., Suite 100
  • Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Improving Vision, Improving Life