Pterygium: Symptoms and Treatment Options
At Woolfson Eye Institute, we are able to provide a number of services for our patients. Our goal is to pair the most up-to-date research and procedures together to achieve the best possible outcomes for the health of your eyes. This includes a common eye disease known as pterygium (also referred to as “surfer’s eye”).
What is a Pterygium?
A pterygium occurs due to longstanding exposure of the eyes to sunlight damage. A pterygium forms a growth in the eyeball. You’ll see pterygium develops on the surface of the eye, most often on the inside corner of the eye. It can also develop, less commonly, on the outside corner of the eye.
It usually presents itself as a triangular-shaped lesion in the shape of a triangle with white, pink, or yellow-colored tints The lesion itself is not dangerous! However, you’ll find that it can cause redness, itching, or a foreign body sensation and/or burning in the eye. Some have reported that it feels like you have something that has gotten in your eye. They can sometimes feel uncomfortable if they are large or inflamed.
These lesions can feel uncomfortable so many patients pursue using eye drops they can find at the drugstore. If the discomfort turns into pain, you may want to visit your doctor at Woolfson Eye Institute to see if you are in need of steroid eye drops.
If the pain persists, one of our surgeons can perform an outpatient procedure to remove this growth and lesion.
Non-surgical treatment may involve frequent lubricating eye drops. Sometimes a steroid eye drop may be needed to treat the inflammation. However, long term use of a steroid drop is not advised.
If you have had frequent and excessive exposure to sunlight, the chances of you developing pterygium is increased as opposed to those who have not. We recommend that patients use protective eyewear, hats that have a brim to cover and shield your eyes from the sun and consider using sunglasses that offer UVA/UVB protection.
When is Pterygium Surgery Indicated?
Surgery is indicated when a pterygium:
- Increases in size
- Is always inflamed
- Causes a feeling as if there is a foreign body on the eye
- Distorts the cornea and causes blurred vision
- Interferes with contact lens wear
An ophthalmologist at Woolfson Eye Institute can evaluate your pterygium and advise if you would benefit from a surgical excision.
The surgery is an outpatient procedure. It involves excising the pterygium and placing a graft in the space where the pterygium was present. The reason for the graft is to reduce the risk of the pterygium growing back. Whichever method is used to remove the pterygium, there is always a small risk of recurrence.
What are Pterygium Symptoms? How Do I Know For Sure I have Pterygium?
Your doctor will determine whether or not you have pterygium during your eye exam. They will also be able to diagnose your issue if you have the following symptoms:
- The sensation that something is in your eye
- As if sand or dirt is irritating your eye
While this may start as an annoyance, pterygium can affect your vision. Our team of trained surgeons at Woolfson Eye Institute can be trusted to identify pterygium and provide you with the necessary treatment or procedure to get you back to your everyday life.
What Exams or Pterygium Eye Treatment Options Should I Consider?
We will always pursue your eye health as a team. Your doctor will conduct a thorough eye exam to examine your eye for all possible signs of pterygium before diagnosing and deciding on a treatment for pterygium. Many times, a sit-lamp exam will allow our doctor to get a closer view of the lesion that is affecting your eye by utilizing the magnification and bright light from the lamp.
If our doctor believes that they need a sample of the lesion, a lab test will be conducted to analyze the lesion further.
The severity of the lesion will determine the treatments that are recommended to our patients. If your symptoms and exam yield mild results, our doctor will begin with eye drops and other ointments to assist with the irritation and discomfort.
However, if the growth is more severe, an outpatient surgical removal of the lesion will be necessary to ensure that your eyesight does not become affected or in order to eliminate the pain associated with the growth.
You Can Trust Woolfson Eye Institute
The health of your eyes are our number one priority. We will work together with our patients to ensure that the course of treatment is specific to the needs of the patient. No two patients are alike!
We will take the time to answer any questions or concerns you may have so that you are at ease and comfortable with your treatment plan.
We believe that with our experienced doctors, state-of-the-art technology, and compassionate care, you will walk away with better vision, better life.