Pterygium: Understanding This Abnormal Eye Growth

Does your eye have a new or existing growth on it? Does this growth appear to go from the white part of your eye to the clear part of your eye? If so, you may have a pterygium.

What is a pterygium?

A pterygium is a white, fleshy growth that extends from the white part of your eye over the top of your iris. Often, especially if it stays small, it does not cause any symptoms. However, in some cases, it can cause your eyes to become red, itchy, irritated, and even cause blurry vision.

Also, a pterygium is different than a pinguecula! How? A pinguecula is an eye growth that looks like it’s popping out at you when you look in the mirror.

View of a pterygium from the side.

Pterygium prevention

Like a pinguecula, it’s important to note that this eye condition is often associated with an increased exposure to sunlight, wind, and airborne debris. To prevent your eyes from developing a pterygium, or to keep your pterygium from growing bigger, there are a few easy steps you can take:

  1. When outdoors, wear sunglasses that have UVA and UVB protection (Transitions are a great option too). 
  2. Make sure your sunglasses have good coverage around the sides.
  3. Consider using artificial tears to help keep your eyes lubricated, as this can reduce irritation.

Related: “Photochromic Lenses: What Are The Real Benefits?”

This is what a pterygium looks like.

Management and surgery

Lastly, when a pterygium continues to cause problems, medicated eye drops or surgery may be required in certain cases. This is particularly true if the growth starts to block your vision!

If you have a pterygium, I highly recommend finding an eye doctor who can measure and manage its change over time.

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