One of the most common reasons for people to visit an ophthalmologist is due to red, irritated, and tired eyes. While often the first thought is that these symptoms are due to an eye infection or dry eye, another common cause can be due to a growth on the eye called a pterygium. While a true pterygium is not cancerous, it can cause significant visual disturbances and eye irritation. There are a variety of treatment options, and the first step should be an evaluation by an Eye Care Professional to confirm the diagnosis, as other conditions can look like a pterygium, and to initiate therapy.

WHAT IS A PTERYGIUM?

Pterygiums often cause the eye to look very red, and often they can cause the eye to feel irritated and sandy. Certain environmental conditions, such as exposure to wind or direct air flow from air conditioning vents, or extended periods of viewing a computer screen, can also exacerbate these symptoms.
If the pterygium starts to grow onto
the cornea, it can also start to cause astigmatism, which will blur the vision, and in extreme cases can cover the pupil of the eye.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT
FOR PTERYGIUMS?
The most important thing to do if you suspect you have a pterygium, is to visit with your ophthalmologist or eye care professional and get an exam. While more rare, there are other conditions, such as cancers or other types of growths, that can sometimes look like pterygiums, so please get evaluated first.

If your doctor confirms the presence of a pterygium, then there are several options. If the pterygium is small and your main symptoms are redness and irritation,

OTIRED EYES?

ne of the most common reasons for people to visit an ophthalmologist is due to red, irritated, and tired eyes. While often the first thought is that these symptoms are due to an eye infection or dry eye, another common cause can be due to a growth on the eye called a pterygium. While a true pterygium is

not cancerous, it can cause significant visual disturbances and eye irritation. There are a variety of treatment options, and the first step should be an evaluation by an Eye Care Professional to confirm the diagnosis, as other conditions can look like a pterygium, and to initiate therapy.

the first step is medical treatment with eye drops to help lubricate the eye and decrease inflammation. In addition, it is always important to protect your eyes from further sun damage by wearing sunglasses with UV protection and a hat. Also, avoiding ceiling fans and direct exposure to air conditioning vents, such as those found in a car, can help reduce further irritation to the eye.

If the pterygium is large enough to be causing blurred vision or your symptoms are not controlled medically, then surgery may be recommended. Surgery is done
in an outpatient surgery center. The recovery time is quick and with modern technologies and techniques, there is minimal discomfort and an excellent cosmetic success.

 

WHAT IS A PTERYGIUM?

A pterygium is a wing shaped growth on the eye. It grows from the delicate white tissue that lines the surface of the eye, called the conjunctiva, and is due to UV exposure from the sun. Pterygiums usually begin in the corner of the eye but can start to grow onto the cornea and cover the pupil. Pterygiums are more common in areas such as Florida or the Caribbean that receive a lot of sun and are close to the equator.

By Jennifer Loh, MD

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