Understanding Pterygium: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Have you ever noticed a fleshy bump on the inner corner of your eye that seems to be growing over the white part of your eye? If so, you may be experiencing a common eye condition called pterygium. In this article, we will explore what pterygium is, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

What is Pterygium?

A pterygium is a benign growth of tissue that occurs on the conjunctiva, which is the thin, clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye. It usually appears on the inner corner of the eye and can gradually extend toward the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye. Pterygium is also known as “surfer’s eye” because it is often seen in people who spend a lot of time outdoors in sunny, windy, and dusty environments.

Causes of Pterygium

The exact cause of pterygium is not well understood, but exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight, dry, dusty or windy environments, and chronic eye irritation are believed to contribute to its development. Individuals who work outdoors or participate in outdoor activities such as surfing, skiing, and fishing are at higher risk of developing pterygium. It is also more common in people who live in tropical or subtropical regions.

Symptoms of Pterygium

Pterygium may not always cause symptoms, but when it does, the most common symptoms include:

  • A fleshy bump on the eye that may be white, pink, or red in color
  • A feeling of discomfort or irritation in the eye
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Dryness or gritty feeling in the eye
  • Blurred vision if the growth is large enough to extend onto the cornea

Treatment for Pterygium

If you suspect that you have a pterygium, it is important to seek medical attention from an eye doctor. In most cases, pterygium can be managed with non-surgical treatments, such as eye drops to alleviate dryness and inflammation. However, if the growth is causing discomfort, interfering with vision, or if it is growing rapidly, your doctor may recommend surgical removal of the pterygium. Surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia and involves removing the abnormal tissue and replacing it with a healthy graft of tissue from another part of the conjunctiva.

Prevention of Pterygium

The best way to prevent pterygium is to protect your eyes from UV radiation and avoid dry, dusty, or windy environments. Wearing sunglasses or a hat with a brim when you are outdoors, using artificial tears to keep your eyes moist, and avoiding prolonged exposure to harsh environmental conditions can help reduce your risk of developing pterygium.


Pterygium is a common eye condition that is often seen in people who spend a lot of time outdoors. While it may not always cause symptoms, it can cause discomfort, inflammation, and vision problems if left untreated. If you suspect that you have a pterygium, it is important to seek medical attention from an eye doctor. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most cases of pterygium can be managed effectively, allowing you to maintain healthy vision and eye comfort.

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