Pterygium (pronounced tur-IJ-ee-um) is a common eye condition that affects people who spend a lot of time outdoors that has extensive exposure to the sun from early childhood or adulthood. People with pterygium have a growth of pink or red, fleshy tissue on the white of the eye. It is most commonly form on the side closest to the nose due to intense sun exposure.
Pterygium is also known as surfer’s eye because it often affects surfers and skiers. It is a noncancerous abnormal tissue that usually grows slowly throughout life due to UV ray damages from the sun. It may stop growing after a certain point. In rare occasions, a pterygium can continue growing towards the pupil of the eye and interferes with vision either by blockage or distortion due to astigmatism.
A pterygium can be removed surgically if it causes discomfort or distorts vision (by inducing astigmatism). The procedure is done under local anesthesia and involves peeling the growth off of the cornea and trimming it from the conjunctiva, the white of the eye. If this is all that is done, the pterygium has a high likelihood of growing back, and the recurrence can often be more aggressive than the original pterygium. Our surgeons use state-of-the-art techniques, including the use of conjunctival grafts, amniotic membranes, and anti-scarring medications, to prevent recurrences. We also make use of innovative tissue sealants to prevent suture related discomfort and scarring.