If you are exposed to a high amount of sunlight, sand or wind you should be protecting your eyes to avoid Pterygium. Pterygium (pronounced tur-IJ-ee-um) is commonly called Surfer’s Eye. This common eye condition looks like a growth of pink fleshy tissue on the white of the eye. There are several segments of the growth and in most cases it stops growing at a certain point. Scientists have found that this non-cancerous growth usually begins on the side closest to the nose. Un-protected eyes allow the sunlight to trigger the growth of Pterygium. The sun’s rays pass through the cornea, where the light is refracted and becomes focused on the limbic area (corner of your eye near your nose).
Pterygium is not serious, but can be very uncomfortable. Imagine feeling like there is something stuck in your eye all day and night! Other symptoms include inflammation, tearing which can cause bleeding and dry itchy eyes. In cases of increased growth the Pterygium can begin to cover the pupil and interfere with vision. There isn’t any known medical treatment to reduce or prevent the progression. Some of the irritating symptoms can be lessened with the use of artificial tears. In cases of extreme discomfort and decreased vision, surgical removal is the only way to completely rid yourself of Pterygium. Long term follow up is needed after the removal of Pterygium because it may recur after the completion of surgical correction.
Pterygium is most likely to occur in twice as many men than women. It is also more prevalent near the equator, lower elevations and windy locations.
How to prevent Pterygium:
- Wear UV-protective sunglasses with side shields
- and/or a wide-brimmed hat