Pterygium ( Surfer’s Eye )

What is Pterygium ( Surfer’s Eye ) ?

A pterygium is a growth of the conjunctiva or mucous membrane that covers the white part of your eye over the cornea. The cornea is the clear front covering of the eye. This benign or noncancerous growth is often shaped like a wedge. A pterygium usually doesn’t cause problems or require treatment, but it can be removed if it interferes with your vision.

What causes it ?

The exact cause of pterygium isn’t known. One explanation is that too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can lead to these growths. It occurs more often in people who live in warm climates and spend a lot of time outdoors in sunny or windy environments. People whose eyes are exposed to certain elements on a regular basis have a higher risk of developing this condition. These elements include:

  • pollen
  • sand
  • smoke
  • wind
What are the symptoms?

A pterygium doesn’t always cause symptoms. When it does, the symptoms are usually mild. Common symptoms include redness, blurred vision, and eye irritation.

You might also feel a burning sensation or itchiness. If a pterygium grows large enough to cover your cornea, it can interfere with your vision. Thick or larger pterygium can also cause you to feel like you have a foreign object in your eye. You might not be able to continue wearing contact lenses when you have a pterygium due to discomfort.

How is it surgically removed?

Surgery is minimally invasive and takes roughly 20-30 minutes. The pterygium is first carefully peeled, then a tissue graft is harvested from beneath your upper eyelid and placed over the removal site to reduce the chance of recurrence. The graft is usually secured with tissue glue and rarely needs sutures. The site where the tissue is harvested heals on its own.

How long does it take to heal?

Healing time varies. Soreness is very common for the first week and redness may last up to 6 weeks after surgery. In general, smaller pterygiums tend to heal the fastest while larger pterygiums take longer to heal.

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