A pterygium, also known as "surfer's eye," is a non-cancerous growth of tissue on the conjunctiva of the eye. The conjunctiva is the clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids. Pterygia often appear as a fleshy, triangular-shaped growth on the eye, and can cause a variety of symptoms including redness, irritation, and blurred vision.
Pterygia are most commonly caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. This is why they are often referred to as "surfer's eye," as people who spend a lot of time in the sun and on the water, such as surfers, are at a higher risk of developing them. Other risk factors include dry eyes, exposure to wind and dust, and genetics.
To prevent pterygia, it is important to protect your eyes from UV radiation. This can be done by wearing sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat when spending time outdoors, especially in bright sunlight. It's also important to protect your eyes from wind and dust by wearing safety goggles or glasses.
If you have a dry eye, it's important to take steps to keep your eyes lubricated. This can be done by using artificial tears, or by taking omega-3 supplements.
If a pterygium is causing symptoms, there are several treatment options available. The most common treatment is to use eye drops or ointments to reduce inflammation and redness. If the pterygium is causing significant symptoms or is affecting vision, surgery may be recommended. Surgery involves removing the pterygium and repairing the area with a patch of conjunctiva from another part of the eye or a piece of synthetic tissue. It's important to note that even after surgery, the pterygium can recur, so it's important to continue to protect your eyes from UV radiation and other irritants.
In conclusion, a pterygium is a non-cancerous growth of tissue on the conjunctiva of the eye, caused by prolonged exposure to UV radiation, wind and dust, dry eyes and genetics. To prevent pterygium, it's important to protect your eyes from UV radiation and other irritants. If a pterygium is causing symptoms, treatment options include eye drops, ointments and surgery. Even after the surgery, it's important to continue to protect your eyes from UV radiation and other irritants to prevent recurrence.
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Gintien Huang, M.D.