Pterygium: Understanding This Abnormal Eye Growth

Here is what a pterygium looks like from the side.

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.

In the video below, Dr. Danny Mack discusses exactly what you need to know about pterygiums.

If you don’t like the video or want more information, continue reading.

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.

RELATED: Pinguecula: Understanding This Yellowish Eye Growth

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: Understanding the Broken Blood Vessel in the Eye

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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Dr. Danny Mack earned his Doctor of Optometry degree at The Ohio State University College of Optometry in Columbus, Ohio. During his training, he gained valuable experience in a variety of clinical settings throughout Ohio, Kentucky, and Utah before settling in Hawaii. He currently serves as the Chief of Optometry at Hawaiian Eye Center on the island of Oahu. Dr. Mack regularly manages ocular diseases, provides consultations for eye surgeries, and performs comprehensive eye examinations. He enjoys fitting contact lenses for patients of all ages as well. Dr. Mack won several awards for leadership and service at The Ohio State University College of Optometry and he has a passion for providing quality eye care to individuals in remote locations. He has volunteered his services on eye care outreaches to rural Hawaii, Honduras, and Fiji.