A pterygium (ter-rid-gee-um) is a dense, fibrous, (non-cancerous!) growth that occurs on top of the clear, thin membrane that lies over the white part of the eye called the sclera. It is a growth caused by overexposure to dust, sun and wind and cannot be cured with glasses or contacts.
Pterygiums are most commonly found in people that spend long periods of time outdoors. They are often confused with cataracts but pterygiums require different treatment. A pterygium can form on one or both eyes.
Men get pterygiums more than women and pterygiums tends to occur more frequently in young adults (20 to 40). It is rarely seen in children. Workers involved in any outdoor occupation are at the greatest risk, particularly if they live close to the equator, or at higher altitudes.
What are the Symptoms of a Pterygium?
- Burning or itching eye(s)
- A ‘dirt in the eyes’ gritty sensation
- Foreign body sensation
- Visual disturbances with larger growths
How are Pterygiums Treated?
At Hiatt Eye Center, the removal of a pterygium is a simple, in-office procedure that only takes a few minutes. Your Hiatt Eye doctor will administer a local anesthetic to make sure you are comfortable throughout the procedure.
Following the removal, you will receive an antibiotic ointment and an eye patch which should be worn overnight. A 24-hour follow-up appointment is required. Pterygium removal is associated with very little downtime and most patients are able to return to all normal activities the next day.