A pterygium is a growth on the outside of the eye that appears fleshy and can be concerning when first noticed. They are often pink, although they can also be yellow, gray, white, red, and occasionally clear.
A pterygium usually starts in the inside corner of the eye and slowly expands inward toward the cornea from there. It is a noncancerous growth, and most people would prefer not to deal with a pterygium at all.
How Do I Avoid Developing a Pterygium?
Pterygium development usually starts with overexposure to sunlight. It is common among surfers because they are often outside without eye protection for long periods.
Of course, pterygia are not exclusive to surfers. Anyone currently spends a lot of time outdoors or who spent a lot of time outdoors earlier in life may develop pterygium.
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is known to be damaging to both the skin and eyes. Irritants like dust and wind can also contribute to developing a pterygium, as well as dry eyes.
Limiting your time in the sun is the first step to avoiding a pterygium. When you go outside, be sure to protect your eyes from the sun as best you can.
Wear a hat with a brim to give your eyes shade, and wear sunglasses outside. Be sure that your sunglasses are UVA and UVB protected to protect your eyes against UV rays.
It’s important not to settle for less than complete protection, or you could put your eyes at risk.
What Kind of Symptoms Does a Pterygium Cause?
Sometimes pterygia are nothing more than unpleasant growths. They do not produce any symptoms other than the unwanted appearance of them.
More commonly, however, they cause irritation. A pterygium may cause your eye to burn, itch, feel gritty, and generally cause discomfort.
You may also notice that your eyes are red more frequently. If the pterygium continues to grow, it may reach the cornea, causing vision to become blurry or distorted.
Can I Get a Pterygium Removed?
If the pterygium isn’t causing you issues and you don’t mind how it looks, your eye doctor may say surgery is unnecessary. There is nothing dangerous about a pterygium that isn’t irritating.
If it is causing problems, then the pterygium can be removed surgically. The procedure is minimally invasive and relatively short.
It only takes about half an hour to complete. During the surgery, your eye surgeon will create a well-placed incision and carefully remove the pterygium.
There is a chance of regrowth. However, the surgeon grafts skin onto the removal site, which has dramatically reduced regrowth odds.
The graft is secured either with sutures or special tissue glue. You can also manage pterygium symptoms with artificial tears or even topical steroids.
It all depends on how you want to handle it. As with any medical problem, it’s better to invest in prevention over intervention.
Do you think you may be developing a pterygium? Schedule an appointment at Stahl Eyecare Experts in Garden City, NY, today.