Pterygium Causes & Symptoms

You should never take healthy eyes and good vision for granted. If you are having eyesight problems or notice a growth in your eye, contact an eye doctor as soon as possible to rule out dangerous conditions and begin the treatment you need.

Consider the causes and symptoms of pterygium, also known as “surfer’s eye.” The information here will help you determine if you have this condition. Then, contact Visionary Eye Doctors at 301-896-0890 for a formal pterygium diagnosis and to begin your treatment.

What is Pterygium?

Pterygium (tuh-RIJ-ee-uhm) is an abnormal, wedge-shaped growth on the conjunctiva (the transparent membrane covering the white of your eye). It tends to form in the corner of your eye and grow toward the cornea (the clear front surface of your eye) until it partially obscures your iris (the colored part of your eye). It can look a little scary but rest assured that pterygium is not cancer.

Pterygium often appears in only one eye, but it’s known as bilateral pterygium if it affects both eyes. If left unaddressed, the growth might spread slowly or stop after a certain point. In extreme cases, it can cover your pupil (the black circle at the center of the iris) and cause vision problems.

Causes & Risk Factors

The exact cause of pterygium isn’t known, but here are some of the most common factors that can cause this growth to form in your eye:

  • Unprotected exposure to UV light from the sun and other sources
  • Dust, sand, pollen, smoke, and other irritants get into the eye
  • Being a man between the ages of 20 and 40
  • Living in a warm, tropical climate

Based on these causes and risk factors, it’s easy to see how surfers have an increased chance of developing pterygium. Even so, the condition has nothing to do with surfing itself and can affect anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors.

Symptoms of Pterygium

Sometimes, pterygium has no other symptoms apart from the growth itself. When symptoms do appear, they may include:

  • Redness, itchiness, and irritation
  • Burning or gritty feeling
  • Watery eyes
  • Feeling like something is “in your eye.”
  • Blurry or double vision (if the growth extends into the cornea)
  • Inability to continue wearing contact lenses
  • Self-consciousness about the appearance of your eye

In mild cases, pterygium redness and discomfort can often be controlled with artificial tears. However, when conservative treatment is not effective, surgical pterygium removal may be recommended.

Schedule Pterygium Removal at Visionary Eye Doctors

If you notice signs of pterygium, the first step toward getting the treatment you need is to schedule a consultation with a pterygium surgeon at Visionary Eye Doctors. We utilize advanced diagnostic technology to determine what eye condition you have. Then, we always recommend starting with the most conservative treatments. If those don’t provide relief, we can restore optimal eye health with sutureless pterygium surgery.

To request a surgical consultation, please contact us online or call 301-896-0890 today. We have three offices in the DC area to better serve you.