Have you noticed a fleshy growth on the surface of your eye? This is a common condition, especially if you are outdoors a lot. You may have what is called a pterygium.
What is Pterygium?
Pterygium is a pink, fleshy bump that grows on the white of the eye, which can eventually grow over the cornea and obstruct vision. Individuals who spend a great deal of time outside, especially on the water, are more likely to be diagnosed with pterygium. Spending time outside on the water can result in the sun’s UV rays being bounced back onto your eyes, which increases the longer you stay outside in bright sunlight. Although pterygia are benign, they can often impact your vision and become slightly irritating.
If you have a pterygium, it will often show up on the side of the eye that is closest to the nose. Before growing large enough to be seen, those with a pterygium often complain that they feel like there is something in their eye, like a piece of dirt. Patients who already suffer from dry eye may develop a pterygium as well. If a pterygium grows far enough onto the cornea to cover the pupil, vision will be obstructed.
Depending on the kind of pterygium you have, there are a few treatment options available. For a small pterygium, your doctor will likely prescribe steroid eye drops, or lubricants. These are prescribed to help reduce redness, as well as swelling and irritation. A larger pterygium that is significantly affecting your vision will likely require surgery. The excision may be performed at the doctor’s office, or in an operating room. The surgery is short, and usually only lasts about a half an hour.
After the surgery has been completed, you’ll need to wear eye protection like an eye patch, at least a day or two after surgery. Although it is not something that happens to everyone, when having a pterygium surgically removed, you may induce astigmatism of the eye. After having a pterygium removed, it is possible for it to return. This is more common if you have continued UV exposure around your eyes. To prevent any regrowth, your eye surgeon may decide to use a method called autologous conjunctival autografting. This means that your eye surgeon will suture or glue a piece of eye tissue onto the affected area where the pterygium was located. This is one way of preventing regrowth and recurrence of a pterygium.
If you’re suffering from the effects of a pterygium and would like a professional opinion, please give the eye doctors at Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology a call. We’re happy to set you up with a consultation and help you find out what the best treatment options for your pterygium are.