Pterygium is common among people living in areas of warmer climates where the UV rays from the sun are strong. A pterygium is a benign mass that forms on the top layer of the eye. The top layer, known as the conjunctiva, is attached to the cornea where the sun's rays pass through. Pterygium typically grows on the nasal side of the eye; causing redness, irritation, inflammation, tearing, and dryness. In cases where the pterygium is advanced, the progressed symptoms can lead to complications in vision.
What Causes Pterygium?
The exact cause of Pterygium is unknown, however it has been associated with:
- Dry eye
- Long-term exposure to sunlight
- Dry and dusty environments
Treatments and Removal
Pterygium can be treated with eye drops or ointments to soothe inflammation. However, in advanced cases, surgery may be needed if the growth interferes with vision. During surgery, the abnormal tissue on the outer coating of the eye is removed. This procedure leaves the white of the eye exposed and can take up to a month to completely heal.
Although surgery removes the Pterygium, it can grow back and in some cases be larger than its previous size. Do not be alarmed if this happens; it is quite common for the regrowth of Pterygia. In recent advancements, some surgeons use antimetabolite chemicals and radiation to prevent the abnormal tissue from returning.
If you suffer from Pterygia or are concerned that you may have the symptoms of a growth, Dr. Schmidt can help you explore treatment options.