Pterygium Treatment: Eye Care For “Surfer’s Eye” in Alabama

Eye Disease Graphic with Healthy Eyes, Pinguecula, and Pterygium

Pterygium Eye Care Specialists Near You

A Pterygium is a noncancerous eye condition that affects more than three million people in the United States each year.      

Pterygium is often referred to as “Surfer’s Eye” because it is largely linked to ultraviolet exposure and most often diagnosed in people who spend a lot of time outdoors. It occurs when a growth of tissue forms on the outer layer of your eye. While it is not a serious condition, a pterygium can cause discomfort and impact your vision.

The experts at EyeCare Associates have decades of experience diagnosing and treating conditions like Pterygium. With the most advanced technology available, our doctors can determine the severity of the condition and provide the best treatment plan for you.

Find Pterygium Treatment at an EyeCare Associates Near You

At EyeCare Associates, our goal is to provide every patient with the best vision possible. We offer several locations in Alabama. Click to find a location specializing in Pterygium treatment near you.

What Is a Pterygium?

A pterygium is a growth of tissue that can affect one eye or both and people of all ages. It begins on the conjunctiva, the clear outer layer that covers the white part of your eye, and can grow onto the cornea, the part of the eye that helps focus light onto the retina so you can see clearly.

This benign growth forms a triangular shape that is slightly raised and contains blood vessels, often causing irritation and redness. It may appear yellow at first and become flesh-colored over time. 

While it may not impact your sight in its early stages, if left untreated, a pterygium can spread over the front surface of your eye and cause blurred or double vision.

Symptoms of Pterygium

Most people can see or feel a pterygium. It generally appears on the part of your eye closest to your nose. Symptoms include redness, itchiness, irritation, a burning sensation, and a feeling like you have something in your eye. A thick or large growth can cover your cornea, which can cause impaired or loss of vision.

Most pterygiums can be treated using artificial tears (eye drops) or ointments with corticosteroids. At EyeCare Associates, our doctors perform comprehensive eye exams using the latest technology available to identify and diagnose various eye conditions like Pterygium. We can help you determine whether eye drops, ointment, or outpatient surgery is the best treatment for your unique eyes.

What Causes Pterygium?

A pterygium is a common eye condition that affects millions of people of all ages. Males are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a pterygium than females.

While sun exposure is the main cause, there are other risk factors including dry eyes and exposure to environmental irritants like pollen, dust, sand, smoke, and wind.

The people who are the most at risk for pterygiums are:

  • People who spend a lot of time outdoors, especially without wearing sunglasses or eye protection

  • People who live in warmer climates, on the coast, or close to the equator 

  • People who suffer from dry eyes

Pterygium Risk Factors

To avoid a pterygium, wear sunglasses when spending time outdoors to protect your eyes from sun damage and airborne pollutants, and use over-the-counter eye drops (artificial tears) when your eyes are dry, red, or irritated.

Treatments for Pterygium

A pterygium doesn’t always require treatment but may need treatment if it is blocking vision or causing severe discomfort. Eye drops or ointments with corticosteroids may be used to reduce inflammation. 

In some cases, surgery may be recommended if prescription-based treatments don’t work. Surgery may also be performed for cosmetic reasons. Your EyeCare Associates eye doctor will work with you to determine the best course of treatment on a case-by-case basis.

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Learn About Your Pterygium Treatment Options at EyeCare Associates

Pterygium is a common eye condition that can affect all members of your family. At EyeCare Associates, we provide expert, compassionate eye care and treat eye conditions for patients of all ages. If you believe you or your loved one may have a pterygium, schedule an exam today!

Frequently Asked Questions About Pterygium

How Is a Pterygium Diagnosed?

Diagnosing a pterygium is a straightforward process. During an eye exam, your doctor may use a high-powered microscope known as a slit lamp, which allows them to see the eye with the help of magnification and lighting. If your pterygium is not impacting your vision or causing you discomfort, you may not require medical treatment.

Can I Prevent Getting a Pterygium?

You can help prevent the development of pterygiums or pterygium recurrence by protecting yourself from external factors like sunlight, wind, and dust. Wearing sunglasses that block the sun’s ultraviolet light rays, particularly if you are often outdoors, can help shield your eyes from both dust and sunlight. If you already have a pterygium, limiting your exposure to sunlight can slow its growth.

Can Pterygium Be Treated Without Surgery?

Most pterygiums can be treated using artificial tears, steroid eye drops, or ointments with corticosteroids. Your doctor may recommend pterygium surgery, a painless, outpatient procedure if the growth causes extreme discomfort or begins to significantly impact your vision. 

Pterygium surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that generally takes no more than 30 minutes. Amniotic membrane transplantation may be recommended to have your pterygium surgically removed. We will work with you to determine the best surgical treatment option for you.

How Long Does It Take For a Pterygium to Heal?

Your eye doctor will help you determine the best treatment option. Pterygium can be treated using eye drops or ointment prescribed by your eye doctor.

Can Pterygium Go Away On its Own?

While a pterygium may stop growing or clear up on its own, treatment is often necessary. If you see or feel a growth on your eye, or experience redness, itchiness, or loss in vision, call us to schedule an appointment with EyeCare Associates today.

Is Pterygium Cancerous?

A pterygium is not cancerous and can be treated through medication or surgery. At EyeCare Associates, we recommend routine eye exams to your doctor to monitor the healing process and prevent future growths from occurring.