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.

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What is Pterygium?

If you spend a lot of time outside near water, you’re experiencing a lot of UV ray damage to your eyes over time. This happens because nearly the full-strength of the sun’s UV rays are reflected by the surface of the water. This can eventually cause a fleshy, pink growth to occur in the whites of the eyes. This can also happen to people who experience dry eyes. Although these growths, called pterygia, are benign, it can still affect your vision and irritate your eyes.

Pterygium Sysmptoms

A pterygium often begins with the feeling that there is something in your eye, similar to a speck of dirt or debris. When the pterygium grows large enough to be seen, it will often occur on the side of the eye closest to the nose. If untreated, the pterygium can grow large enough to obstruct your vision by covering the cornea and pupil.

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Pterygium Treatments

Your treatment options for pterygium will depend on the kind of pterygium you have. Small pterygium can be treated with prescribed medications like steroid eye drops or lubricants. This can help reduce redness, swelling, and irritation. Large pterygium that affect your vision will need to be surgically removed. This excision can be performed at our office or in an operating room. The surgery is short and usually only requires about thirty minutes.

After the surgery has been completed, you’ll need to wear eye protection like an eye patch for at least a day or two after surgery. Although rare, you may induce astigmatism of the eye when having a pterygium removed. It’s also possible for the pterygium to return if you continue to expose your eyes to UV rays. To prevent this, sometimes a method called autologous conjunctival autografting is used where a piece of eye tissue is grafted to where the pterygium occurred. This can prevent it from regrowing.

Schedule an Appointment

If you’re looking for treatment and relief from pterygium, give us a call to set up an appointment with our eye doctors at Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology. We can find an appointment that works best for you so you can begin looking at your best treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for a pterygium to go away?

A pterygium will not go away on its own and requires treatment from an ophthalmologist.

What aggravates a pterygium?

UV light is the cause of pterygium, but things like wind, sand, smoke, or dust can aggravate symptoms.

Can pterygium be treated without surgery?

Very small pterygiums can be treated with prescription steroidal eyedrops from your ophthalmologist. However, larger pterygiums are typically removed with surgery.

Can pterygium grow back?

Pterygiums can return after surgical removal, which is why its important to address the underlying causes and prevent further growth.

Can you go blind from pterygium?

If left untreated, it is possible for a pterygium to cause blindness if it grows large enough to cover the pupil. Fortunately, it is rare that someone waits until this stage to seek treatment.

How do you stop a pterygium from growing?

The best way to prevent the growth of a pterygium is by protecting your eyes from sun exposure. This means wearing UV-protective sunglasses, or at least a wide-brimmed hat, when you are outside.

What causes a pterygium?

Pterygiums are caused by long-term UV light exposure. Theyre more common in people who spend a lot of time outside, especially around bodies of water (which reflect sunlight).

What is the best eye drop for pterygium?

Your ophthalmologist can prescribe specialized eyedrops or recommend over-the-counter options. Typically pterygium eyedrops include medications like mitomycin C and 5-fluorouracil.

Can pterygium turn cancerous?

Pterygium themselves are not cancerous, but some new studies suggest that pterygium have a small chance of developing into melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

Can pterygium cause permanent damage?

If pterygiums are not treated in a timely manner, they can grow large enough to cause scarring on the eye.

Do pterygiums go away on their own?

A pterygium will not go away on its own and requires treatment from an ophthalmologist.

What can make a pterygium worse?

UV light is the cause of pterygium, but things like wind, sand, smoke, or dust can aggravate symptoms.

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