A pterygium is a dense, fibrous, (non-cancerous) growth that occurs on top of the clear, thin membrane over the white part of the eye, also called the sclera. It is a growth caused by overexposure to the earth’s natural elements (dust and wind) and cannot be cured with glasses or contacts.

Do I Have a Pterygium?

Pterygiums are found mostly in people that spend long periods of time outdoors.
Men are more commonly affected than women, and pterygiums tend to occur more frequently in the 20- to 40-year age group. Despite being commonly referred to as “surfer’s eye,” pterygiums can be seen in anyone who spends a good deal of time outdoors. Those who hold jobs involving outdoor work are at the greatest risk, particularly if they live close to the equator or at higher altitudes such as here in Colorado.

What Are the Symptoms of a Pterygium?

Similar to other eye conditions, the symptoms of pterygium will vary from person to person. In general, pterygiums may present with some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Burning or itching eye(s)
  • A gritty feeling similar to “dirt in the eyes”
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Visual disturbances with larger growths
  • Clearly visible eye growths

How Are Pterygiums Treated?

Although they are often confused with cataracts, pterygiums require different treatment. The removal of a pterygium is a common, in-office procedure that only takes a few minutes. You will be given a local anesthetic to help you remain comfortable throughout the procedure.

Following the removal, you will receive an antibiotic ointment and an eye patch to be worn temporarily. A return visit to our office is required the day after the procedure for a brief follow-up treatment. However, there is very little downtime associated with pterygium removal and most patients are able to return to normal activity the next day.

What If I Think I Have a Pterygium?

A pterygium can form on one or both eyes and can come from one or both corners of the eye. If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your eyes, whether you think it’s a pterygium or something else, come see us.
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