Though it’s commonly called surfer’s eye, pterygium can hit you even if you’ve never been near a surfboard. You probably have spent time in the sun, though, and you may be concerned with this fleshy, pink growth over part of your eye. The eye care professionals at the Witlin Center for Advanced Eye Care, serving East Brunswick, Toms River, and Morristown, New Jersey, can take care of your pterygium, should it develop to a point where it irritates your eye or affects your vision. Call or click for an appointment today.
The inside of your eyelid and the surface of your eye are covered with a thin, clear tissue called the conjunctiva. Pterygium is a common, but abnormal growth of pinkish flesh on the conjunctiva. While it can look serious, it’s not a cancerous growth, and it doesn’t usually cause major problems. It can, however, cause irritation or the feeling that you have something in your eye.
Usually starting in the inner corner of your eye, closest to your nose, and growing out toward your pupil, pterygium can become red and irritated. When it does, it’s time to visit Witlin Center for Advanced Eye Care. There are several treatment strategies, including surgery.
Pterygium often appears without symptoms, particularly in the early stages, when it’s just a harmless growth. If you do have symptoms, these might include:
If the pterygium reaches your cornea, it’s possible that it can change the shape enough to blur your vision.
When you’re exposed to excessive amounts of ultraviolet light, such as sunlight without wearing sunglasses, you’re more at risk of developing pterygium. The same is true if you’re frequently exposed to wind and dust, or if you have another eye condition called dry eye.
Other factors that increase your risk of pterygium include being a man between the ages of 20 and 40. The closer you live to the equator, the greater your chances of getting this condition. While pterygium favors men, anyone living in a sunny climate is at risk.
Eyedrops of various strengths are the first level of treatment, but surgery may be considered if your case is cosmetically unsightly, not responding to other treatments, or putting your eyesight at risk.
Pterygium surgery typically cuts away the excess tissue and then grafts tissue over the space where the growth was removed. This graft helps prevent recurrence of further pterygium growth. If the condition is going to reappear, it most commonly comes back within 12 months of surgery.