Treatment for Pterygium (Surfer’s Eye)
A pterygium is a name given to a non-cancerous growth that occurs on the conjunctive or the mucous membrane that covers the white part of your eye over the cornea. Pterygium is often referred to as ‘surfer’s eye’ since the growths are much more common in people who, like surfers, spend a great deal of time outdoors. However, you don’t necessarily need to be near the sea or the beach to develop a pterygium growth. It is just as often seen in people who are gardeners, builders, farmers, and more. It is also more common in adults between the ages of 20 and 50, and in areas where there are more environmental irritants such as dust, wind, chemicals, and air pollution.
Symptoms of a pterygium
Pterygium growths tend to develop very slowly, meaning that you might not experience any symptoms early on. However, as the growth gets larger you may find that your eye feels itchy, sore, or swollen. This most often occurs in the corner of your eye nearest to your nose. Other symptoms include a gritty feeling in the eye and dryness due to reduced tear production. Eventually, the growth could get large enough to cross over the cornea, obscuring part of your vision and causing objects to appear blurred.
Pterygium growths can occur on one eye or both and may not necessarily develop at the same rate in each.
Treatment for a pterygium
The treatment that you are recommended for your pterygium will depend on how large it is and whether or not it is affecting your sight. In many cases, the effects are so mild that no treatment is needed. However, if your pterygium is impacting your day to day life, the two main treatment options that will be discussed with you are:
Eyedrops. These can be used to reduce inflammation and swelling that is being caused by growth. They can also be used to alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes, which they do by providing additional lubrication. There are many different types of eye drops, and it may be necessary to try several to find the variety that works best for you. This could be an over-the-counter variety or one that is only available on prescription.
Surgery. If your pterygium growth has reached a stage where it is causing considerable discomfort or compromising your vision, you may be recommended to undergo surgery to remove it. Although this may sound concerning, the process is actually very simple and straightforward and can be carried out using just a local anesthetic. You will be able to return home the same day, although you will need to wear a covering over your eye for a number of days. You’ll also be given advice on how to care for your eyes while they heal, which will involve using eye drops for several weeks following your surgery.
Although there is no guarantee that your pterygium won’t recur after surgery, the chances of it doing so are very low at around just 10%. You can reduce your risk of recurrence by limiting your exposure to UV rays and eye irritants following your surgery. The best way to do this is by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and hats with brims to prevent as much sunlight as possible from reaching your eyes.
For more advice on pterygium growths and their treatment, or to schedule an appointment for an eye exam with our experienced team, please call us today.