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Pterygium: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Publisher/Author : Pacific Cross

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)

Know the basics

What is pterygium?

Pterygium, or also known as Surfer’s Eye, is a condition that makes the membrane that covers the white part of your eyes turn cloudy. It often affect people who spend a lot of time outdoor, especially surfers, hence it isthe named as Surfer’s Eye.

It is a non-cancerous growth that is often pinkish in color, raisinged slightly and havinge visible blood vessels on them. It usually starts at the nasal (inner corner) of your eye and spread outwardtoward too the eye center.

The growth may reach the cornea – the part that cover the pupil of your eye. The problem may occur on one or both eyes. When it affects both eyes, it is called a bilateral pterygium.

How common is pterygium?

It’s most often seen in young adults ages 20 to 40 and quite rare in children. It appears to be more common in men than in women. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of pterygium?

Pterygium normally doesn’t cause any serous symptoms. It might feel like you have a foreign object in your eyes. The common symptoms of pterygium are usually mild:

  •  Redness in the eyes;
  •  Blurred vision;
  •  Itchiness;
  •  Eye irritation;
  •  Dry eye.Feeling like there's something foreign in the eye

If the growth reaches your cornea, it will cause impairment of vision. There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes pterygium?

The exact cause of pterygium isn’t known. Some scientists suggest that it might be the result of sunlight exposure, leading to dry out eyes.

It is more common in people who have a lot of exposure to sunlight and wind, such as people who work outdoors, People who live in tropical climate or dry climate are at higher risk of getting pterygiummore likely to have this condition.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for pterygium?

There are many risk factors for pterygium, such as:

  •  Living in countries near to the equator, which means you are exposed to sunlight more frequently;
  •  Having an outdoor job;
  •  Eye Iirritants such as dust, wind, pollen and smoke can cause dry eyes.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is pterygium diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose pterygium by looking at the appearance of the growth in your eye or physical exam of the eyes and eyelid. Special tests are not needed most of the time.

If your doctor needs to do additional tests, they might include:

  •  Checking your eye vision by asking you to read from a board of text;
  •  Corneal topography, which is used to measure curvature changes in you cornea;
  •  Photo documentation, which involves taking before and after pictures to track the growth rate of the pterygium.

How is pterygium treated?

Pterygium usually doesn’t require treatment if symptoms are mild. If you find the pterygium symptoms extremely discomforting, you can ask your doctor for recommendation reduce them with:

  •  Lubricating eyedrops, artificial tears or ointments;
  •  Occasional use of vasoconstrictor eyedrops;
  •  Short course of steroid eyedrops to calm inflammation.

In more serious cases or if it blocks vision , Your doctor might suggest recommend surgery to remove the pterygium if eye drops or ointments don’t provide relief. Surgery can also be used to remove the growth for cosmetic reasons or if it blocks vision. However, there is a risk that the pterygium returns and becomes more aggressive after the surgery. Your eyes may also feel dry and irritated afterward.

You should discuss with your doctor about surgery if:

  •  Other treatments have failed;
  • Your eyesight is at risk;
  • You is bothered by the cosmetic appearance or by comments from other people about the redness.

Pterygium surgery typically takes 30 to 45 minutes. During the surgery, the pterygium will be removed and your conjunctiva (surface eye tissue) or preserved amniotic membrane (placenta) are used to fill the empty space. If you don’t’ fill in the empty space, the risk of recurrence increased up to 50%, where are with the graft it is reduced to 5%-10%.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage pterygium?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with pterygium:

  •  Wearing sunglasses when you go outside;
  •  Allow your eyes to rest in the shade after a period outdoor;
  •  Use eye drops or artificial tears to moisturize your eyes;
  •  Avoid dust, wind, smoke and pollen.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you. Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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