What is it?

Also known as surfer’s eye – although it is quite common in anyone who spends time outdoors. The main symptom of pterygium is a growth of pink, fleshy tissue on the conjunctiva, the clear tissue that lines eyelids and covers the eyeball. It usually forms on the side closest to the nose and grows toward the pupil area.

It is rarely cancerous, but the growth might spread slowly during a person’s life. In extreme cases, it can cover the pupil and cause decreased vision.

The growth could show up in one eye or both. When it affects both, it’s known as a bilateral pterygium.

Though it isn’t usually a serious condition, it can cause annoying symptoms such as the feeling that something is in the eye, or it may get red and irritated and require medical or surgical treatment.

Pterygia are caused by allergy plus sun exposure.

How is it treated?

Firstly, the most important step is to treat the allergy; and secondly to protect the eye from UV rays using sunglasses.

Surgery is only considered necessary if other treatments have failed, eyesight is at risk or if the look bothers a person. During surgery, tissue from the conjunctiva, or a placenta, is used to fill the empty space after the lesion is gone. The growth is removed and the filler is glued or stitched onto the affected area.

Steroid eye drops taken for several weeks or months will ease inflammation and decrease the chances of a new lesion forming.