pterygiumPterygium (pronounced tur-IJ-ee-um) is a common eye condition that affects people who spend a great deal of time outdoors. Because if often affects surfers, it is also known as surfer’s eye. But pterygium can affect anyone. It is mainly caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, dust, wind, sand, and humidity.

People with pterygium have a growth of pink, fleshy tissue on the white of the eye. The growth initially forms on the side closest to the nose and grows toward the center. The growth is noncancerous and grows slowly throughout life. It can stop growing at any time, or in advanced cases can grow until it covers the pupil of the eye and interferes with vision.

Most times, pterygium is not a serious condition, but it can be annoying. There can be a feeling as if the sufferer has a foreign body in his or her eye. Sometimes the growth becomes red and irritated.

Symptoms of pterygium

  • Burning
  • Gritty feeling in the eye
  • Itching
  • Sensation of a foreign body in the eye
  • Blurred vision


A microscope, also known as a slit lamp, is used to diagnose pterygium. If the symptoms are mild, treatment isn’t usually necessary. If there is a temporary worsening or irritation, it can be treated with:

  • Lubricating eyedrops and ointments
  • Use of vasoconstrictor eyedrops
  • A short course of steroid eyedrops

If the lesion causes persistent discomfort or interferes with vision, it can be removed surgically in an outpatient procedure. With surgery, however, there is a risk of a recurrence of a more aggressive lesion.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, often in dusty conditions, and sense any of the symptoms of pterygium, call us the Griffeth Vision Group to set up an appointment.

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