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Pterygium Treatment

By David Gross on March 01, 2016


Close up of right eye with white spot, pterygiumAlso called surfer’s eye, pterygium is a condition in which a white or reddish spot appears on one or both eyes, usually in adults or children who spend a significant amount of time outside. The lesions are benign, or non-cancerous, but if they progress, pterygium growths can affect eyesight by covering the pupil or distorting the cornea. People with this condition may have the nagging, irritating sensation of a foreign body in the eye. Pterygium treatment from your eye care professional can reduce the size of the growth and provide relief, as well as protection for your vision. To undergo pterygium treatment, contact our Merrillville, IN practice, Deen-Gross Eye Centers, today.

About Surfer’s Eye

Pterygium lesions appear on the white part of the eye, but may grow to cover other optical structures. Researchers believe that the condition results from ultraviolet light exposure, so wearing sunglasses may help reduce the risk for developing the growths. Fair skin, light-eyed individuals with continued exposure to pollen, smoke, sand, wind, and sun are at a greater risk. Dry eye syndrome is also thought to contribute to the development of this condition. Many times, a pterygium growth causes no symptoms, though some people experience eye redness and irritation, blurred vision, or itchy eyes. In some cases, the growth makes wearing contacts uncomfortable.

In some patients, pterygium growths develop after pinguecula, which is a yellow-white bump that presents near the cornea, on the conjunctiva membrane. Pingecula often causes dry eye. 

Treatment Options

Most patients do not need treatment for pterygium. When necessary, suggested treatment will depend upon the severity of your pterygium growths. Corticosteroid ointments or eye drops may help reduce redness and inflammation. Lubricating eye drops may also relieve the feeling of having something in the eye. If dry eye occurs, the doctor may prescribe topical cyclosporine. In some cases, a contact lens may be prescribed to aid in lubricating the eye. Regular checkups with the eye doctor will reveal whether your growth is increasing in size over time.

For larger lesions that recur, interfere with vision, cause astigmatism, or do not respond to medication, a cornea transplant might be recommended. However, the outpatient procedure does pose some risks, like any surgery. An ophthalmologist must cover the opening left by extraction of a pterygium growth. The patient’s own conjunctiva tissue or preserved amniotic membrane from the patient’s placenta may be used as a graft. The surgical procedure takes only 45 minutes, and an eye patch should be worn for 48 hours afterward. Patients should avoid rubbing eyes and swimming, but can return to work and play just following the procedure. Recurrence of growths may occur, so patients should attend scheduled eye checkups regularly for one year after surgery. The first year is when nearly all recurrences occur.

Schedule an Appointment Today

If you’ve noticed a whitish-red growth on the surface of your eye, or you know that you have surfer’s eye and would like to discuss treatment options, contact our eye care center today to schedule your appointment.

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Richard B - St. John, IN

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