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Eye Disorder – Pterygium

Pterygium (Surfer’s Eye) most often refers to a benign growth of the conjunctiva. A pterygium commonly grows from the nasal side of the sclera. It is usually present in the palpebral fissure. It is associated with, and thought to be caused by ultraviolet-light exposure (e.g., sunlight), low humidity, and dust.

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SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of pterygium include persistent redness, inflammation, foreign body sensation, tearing, which can cause bleeding, dry and itchy eyes. In advanced cases the pterygium can affect vision as it invades the cornea with the potential of obscuring the optical centre of the cornea and inducing astigmatism and corneal scarring.

TREATMENT

Today varieties of options are available for the management of pterygium, from irradiation, to conjunctival auto-grafting or amniotic membrane transplantation, along with glue and suture application. As it is a benign growth, pterygium typically does not require surgery unless it grows to such an extent that it covers the pupil, obstructing vision or presents with acute symptoms. Some of the irritating symptoms can be addressed with artificial tears. However, no reliable medical treatment exists to reduce or even prevent pterygium progression. Definitive treatment is achieved only by surgical removal. Long-term follow up is required as pterygium may recur even after complete surgical correction.

PREVENTION

As it is associated with excessive sun or wind exposure, wearing protective sunglasses with side shields and/or wide brimmed hats and using artificial tears throughout the day may help prevent their formation or stop further growth. Surfers and other water-sport athletes should wear eye protection that blocks 100% of the UV rays from the water, as is often used by snow-sport athletes.