What is a Pterygium?

  • Posted on: Apr 15 2019
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Pterygium | Lynwood, CA

A pterygium (also called “surfer’s eye”) is a growth that most often extends from the moist conjunctiva over the cornea of the eye. Pterygiums can lead to dryness and irritation of the eye, among other things. In untreated cases, a pterygium can move into the cornea of the eye, even leading to blindness. Keep reading to learn how pterygiums can be prevented and treated effectively.

Usually, a pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that develops slowly. Surgery may be recommended if your pterygium is advanced. Or, you may not want surgery unless the growth is extremely unsightly or causing physical discomfort. In patients who have a large or growing pterygium, a gritty, itchy, or burning sensation may be reported. The white of the eye can become reddened or inflamed. 

In severe cases, a pterygium moves into the cornea. This can distort the shape of the surface of the eye, leading to astigmatism and other issues with vision. 


There are many factors that can lead to pterygiums, but common factors include repeated exposure to high sun and ultraviolet light. For example, patients who work outdoors or who are welders have a higher risk of developing pterygiums in their lifetimes. Alternatively, some studies have discovered evidence of viruses causing pterygiums, and genetics may play a part in their development as well. 


To prevent pterygiums from developing or growing, you can adjust your lifestyle a little bit. Try to limit your exposure to the sun, especially when it is especially bright. Wear sunglasses and a hat when you’re outside, the more consistently the better. Also, you can incorporate eye lubricants into your eye care. 

Will I require surgery?

Pterygiums may need to be removed if they are growing, cause discomfort or inflammation in your eyes. If they become unsightly or threaten to impair your vision, a pterygium should probably be surgically removed.

Regular eye exams with your eye doctor help ensure the best outcome with the pterygiums. If you want to learn more about pterygiums and how we can help treat them, give us a call at 562-862-4444 to schedule a consultation with us today.

Posted in: Eye Conditions

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