A pterygium, or surfer’s eye, is a fleshy growth that slowly over time covers your eye. They come from excessive exposure to sunlight. That’s why surfers and fishers often develop them.
While the growth is noncancerous, you don’t want to get one. Keep reading to learn more about pterygium and why you want to avoid developing one.
You Can’t Hide It
When you begin to develop a pterygium, it may be hardly noticeable. They start in the corner of your eye and blend in with the sclera. The sclera is the white part of your eye.
However, as time goes on, they spread across the surface of your eye. Eventually, they begin to cover your iris and can even grow into your pupil.
At this point, it is very noticeable, and there’s not much you can do to draw attention away from it. This growth may bother some people more than others, but it can be off-putting.
You may be able to use contacts to cover the pterygium. But it will make it difficult or impossible to put the lens in unless it is a custom contact.
It Can Cause Extra Problems
A pterygium is a foreign growth on your eye. As such, it will create a variety of unpleasant physical symptoms.
These symptoms are annoying but generally harmless. They can include redness, inflammation, itchiness, and dryness.
But, if the pterygium continues to grow into the eye, it can block your vision. They can block light from your pupil, scar your cornea and induce astigmatism.
It Is Difficult to Remove
Pterygia can get removed with surgery. But an operation is typically reserved for advanced cases to avoid potential complications.
There are two types of pterygium removal. They are the bare sclera technique and pterygium grafting procedure.
Standard pterygium surgery removes the growth and grafts the incision with a membrane. The membrane gets taken from the eye underneath your eyelid.
The bare sclera method removes the pterygium but does not cover the sclera with a graft from your eyelid. This method leaves the sclera to heal on its own.
If your pterygium is not causing vision problems, your eye doctor may just give you eye drops to relieve the symptoms.
It Can Grow Back
Grafting surgery reduces the occurrence of regrowth compared to the bare sclera method. But there is still a chance the pterygium could grow back, even with the graft.
With the bare sclera technique, there is a much greater chance that your pterygium will grow back. And often, the pterygium grows back larger after the bare sclera technique.
The benefit of the bare sclera technique is that there is less risk of infection. A pterygium graft needs glue or sutures to hold the graft on the sclera, increasing the risk of developing an infection or other complications.
Prevention is a Priority
No one wants to live with a pterygium. The good news is, they are easy to avoid by being mindful of your eye health.
Pterygium growth mainly occurs from excessive exposure to sunlight. You can significantly reduce your risk of developing one by limiting your eye’s exposure to sunlight.
Make sure to wear 100% UV-protective sunglasses when you go outside, even on cloudy days. Wear a hat with a brim as well to give your face some shade.
You can also limit your time outdoors and avoid being outside during the sunniest parts of the day. Getting sand and dust in your eyes may also contribute to pterygium growth. You can prevent those irritants from getting in your eyes by wearing appropriate eye protection.
Are you looking to treat a pterygium in one of your eyes? Schedule an appointment at Stahl Eyecare in New York, NY, to discuss treatment options!