Pterygium Treatment: Eye Care For “Surfer’s Eye”

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Pterygium (pronounced tur-IJ-ee-um) is a noncancerous eye condition that affects more than three million people in the United States each year. Pterygium is often referred to as Surfer’s Eye because it is largely linked to ultraviolet exposure and most often diagnosed in people who spend a lot of time outdoors. It occurs when a growth of tissue forms on the outer layer of your eye. While it is not a serious condition, a pterygium can cause discomfort and impact your vision. 

The expert doctors with Nationwide Optometry have decades of experience diagnosing and treating conditions like Pterygium. With the most advanced technology available, our doctors can determine the severity of the pterygium and provide the best treatment plan for you.

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At Nationwide Vision, our goal is to provide every patient with their best vision possible. We are conveniently located throughout Arizona. Click to find a location near you.

What Is a Pterygium?

A pterygium is a growth of tissue that can affect one eye or both and people of all ages. It begins on the conjunctiva, the clear outer layer that covers the white part of your eye, and can grow onto the cornea, the part of the eye that helps focus light onto the retina so you can see clearly.

This benign growth forms a triangular shape that is slightly raised and contains blood vessels, often causing irritation and redness. It may appear yellow at first and become flesh-colored over time. 

While it may not impact your sight in its early stages, if left untreated, a pterygium can spread over the front surface of your eye and cause blurred or double vision.

Risk Factors for Pterygium

A pterygium is a common eye condition that affects millions of people of all ages. Sun exposure is the main cause of a pterygium. For this reason, people who spend a lot of time outdoors or live in warmer climates are most at risk. Other risk factors include dry eyes and exposure to pollen, sand, smoke, and wind. 

To avoid a pterygium, wear sunglasses when spending time outdoors to protect your eyes from sun damage and environmental irritants, and use over-the-counter eye drops (artificial tears) when your eyes are dry, red, or irritated. Scheduling routine eye exams is always recommended to ensure you’re experiencing your best vision possible.

Treatments for Pterygiums

Nationwide Optometry doctors perform comprehensive eye exams using the latest technology available. Our expert team specializes in eye conditions and helps you determine the best treatment for your unique eyes. 

Most pterygiums can be treated using artificial tears (eye drops) or ointments with corticosteroids. Your doctor may recommend surgery if the growth causes extreme discomfort or begins to significantly impact your vision. During this painless, outpatient procedure, your doctor will remove the pterygium and replace it with a conjunctival or amniotic membrane graft. We use amniotic membranes in reconstructive eye surgery because of their biological properties that promote wound healing. 

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Learn About Your Pterygium Treatment Options at Nationwide Vision

Pterygium is a common eye condition that can affect all members of your family. At Nationwide Vision, we provide expert, compassionate eye care and treat eye conditions for patients of all ages.If you believe you or your loved one may have a pterygium, schedule an exam at our eye institute today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pterygium

Can Pterygium Go Away On its Own?

While a pterygium may stop growing or clear up on its own, treatment is often necessary. If you see or feel a growth on your eye, or experience redness, itchiness, or loss in vision, call us to schedule an appointment with Nationwide Vision today.

When Is Pterygium Surgery Necessary?

Your eye doctor may recommend surgery to remove the pterygium if eye drops or ointments do not provide relief or the growth impacts your vision. We will work with you to determine the best treatment option to help you experience life pain-free and with the best vision possible.

How Can I Prevent Getting a Pterygium?

To avoid a pterygium, wear sunglasses with ultraviolet protection when spending time outdoors to protect your eyes from sun damage and airborne pollutants. Use over-the-counter eye drops when your eyes are dry, red, or irritated.