pterygium (pronounced tur-ij-ee-um) is an
eye condition in which a triangular-shaped white or yellowish growth in the fleshy white
tissue of the eye. Occasionally, a pterygium will grow to extend over
the cornea, may become red and swollen, or even thick to the point you
feel like you have something in your eye. While a pterygium is non-cancerous,
it can grow large enough to actually interfere with vision, causing blurred
vision or even astigmatism.
Symptoms of a pterygium
Some people may never experience symptoms after a pterygium growth appears,
while others may experience a number of symptoms. Possible symptoms include:
o Redness and inflammation
o Blurred vision
o Itching, burning or gritty feeling in the eye
o Feeling as though there is foreign matter in the eye
Diagnosis and treatment
Your ophthalmologist can diagnose a pterygium with an examination using
a slit-lamp, which allows your eye doctor to examine your cornea, iris,
lens and the space between the iris and cornea. Through this exam, your
doctor will be able to see any abnormalities or growths on your eye.
Unless symptoms are severe, pterygium may not require treatment. Lubricating
eye drops, ointment or even a steroid eye drop may be used to treat redness
and irritation caused by a pterygium.
Growths may also be surgically removed if they become large enough to interfere
with vision or cause continual discomfort. Some patients will choose to
have them removed for cosmetic reasons.
Pterygium removal may cause astigmatism in some patients, as it creates
an uneven curvature of the eye. About 20 to 30 percent of pterygia grow
back, but regular eye examinations will help monitor possible regrowth.
While it isn’t entirely certain what causes pterygia, it is thought
that they may be caused by exposure to UV radiation, dryness, dust or
other foreign matter in the eye. If you have a pterygium removed, protect
your eyes from UV light and dusty conditions with proper eyewear and regularly
apply lubricating eye drops or artificial tears to your eyes to help prevent
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