Pterygium

Overview

A pterygium is a non-cancerous growth of the clear, thin tissue over the white part of the eye. Some grow slowly throughout a person’s life, while others stop growing after a certain point.

Warning Signs & Symptoms

The primary symptom of a pterygium is a painless area of elevated white tissue, with blood vessels on the inner or outer edge of the cornea. Other symptoms include redness or inflammation, blurred vision, dryness, irritation, burning or having a gritty feeling.

Treatment/Procedures

In many cases, no treatment is needed. When a pterygium becomes red and irritated, eye drops or ointments may be used to help reduce inflammation. If the growths become large enough to threaten sight or cause persistent discomfort, they can be removed in an outpatient procedure.

Prevention

The cause is unclear, but prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light definitely plays a role. The combination of dryness, wind and sun frequently make the condition worse. Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim to prevent the pterygium from returning, if it is removed.