What is a pterygium?

A Pterygium is an abnormal wedge-shaped growth on the cornea, (the clear tissue covering the iris, or color part of the eye), or the conjunctive, (the white part of the eye). It is usually related to irritation from the sun or dryness and commonly seen in people who have spent much of their time outside, especially in sunny, windy and dusty areas of the country.

How do I know if I have a pterygium?

You can see a whitish or yellowish growth usually on the edge of the cornea, by the iris which may progress by moving toward the pupil area.

What can be done for it?

If the pterygium gradually advances onto the cornea, it may require surgical removal, after which the eye is usually patched overnight to keep it moist and to keep the eyelid from irritating the affected area. The patient will be given a prescription for drops or ointment, and advised to use artificial tears as often as possible until the eye heals.

Will it grow back?

Approximately 20 to 30% of pterygiums grow back. Some may have to be removed surgically again, but some re-growths remain small and do not encroach on the cornea, so sunglasses may prevent recurrences. Regular eye examinations would keep tabs on any future pterygium development.

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