Pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that develops in the conjunctiva (the white, clear, thin tissue of the eye). It is a fleshy, pink growth that can occur in one eye or in both (the plural of pterygium is ptyergia). Pterygium usually located in between the eyelids in close proximity to the nose. However, sometimes it can extend into the cornea. Whether or not, it has affected your vision, pterygium must be diagnosed by a professional licensed and experienced eye doctor such as our Tustin eye surgeon at Orange Coast Eye Center.
Symptoms of pterygium may include: eye irritation, dry eye-like symptoms, ocular inflammation and eye redness. It can also create the sensation that something is in the eye. On some occasions, pterygium can be asymptomatic and the patient may not be aware that they have the condition until diagnosed by our Tustin eye surgeon. However, if the pterygium extends to the cornea, it can result in blurry vision due to the curvature of the cornea being altered. The condition can also cause obscured vision, also known as a decrease in visual acuity. Pterygium usually occurs in people between the ages of 20 and 50 and is more commonly seen in men than women.
Environmental factors play a huge role in the development of pterygium. Although the exact causes of pterygium are unknown, most experts agree that there are certain factors that place people in a high risk category for developing it. Some of the risk factors of Pterygium include: dust, UV light, and a warm climate. People who live in a dry, hot, sunny climate and who spend a great deal of their time outside are more susceptible to getting pterygium than others. Pterygium is very common among people involved in outdoor sports, such as skiers and sailors because of their high exposure to UV light. Not wearing UV protection sunglasses also increases one’s chances of getting pterygium.
Treatment for pterygium varies depending on individual circumstances. While in many cases, no treatment is required at all, sometimes artificial tears or a mild steroid eye drop may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms. Surgery may be required if the pterygium reaches the cornea and is affecting vision. Surgery can be performed for cosmetic purposes. In most cases, if the pterygium stretches to reach the cornea, removing it through surgery has good results, restoring visual acuity in patients. If you have any symptoms, we highly recommend that you make an appointment with our Tustin eye surgeon at Orange Coast Eye Center to confirm the diagnosis. If our expert eye doctor believes that surgery would be beneficial to you, you will receive all the information you need to make an informed decision.