Understanding Pterygium Submitted by Atlanta Vision Cataract and Laser Center on October 27, 2016

A pterygium is an abnormal tissue growth that protrudes from the eye’s conjunctiva (membrane covering whites of the eyes) onto the cornea. Pterygia usually develop in the inner corner of the eye and can either be small or grow big enough in size to cause irritation and ultimately interfere with normal vision.


It’s not exactly clear why pterygia may develop in the eye(s). However, most medical experts agree there are certain risk factors that may contribute to the disorder including:

• Dry eye• Wind and dust irritants• Prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays

Individuals who live close to the equator have a much higher risk of developing pterygia. But, it can affect anyone living in a sunny, dry climate and occurs most often in people between 20 – 40 years of age and generally tends to affect more men than women.


The following list of symptoms does not necessarily mean that your eye has a pterygium. But, if you are experiencing more than one symptom, it’s best to contact your eye doctor at Atlanta Vision Center for a thorough exam.

• Appearance of a raised red, pink, or white lesion• Blurry or decreased vision• Sensation of a foreign body• Irritation and redness of the eye

Who is at Risk?

Pterygia generally develop in individuals who spend a lot of time outside, especially in windy, sunny regions.

Diagnosis and Testing

Pterygia can be detected and diagnosed in a routine eye exam at Atlanta Vision Center. At times, the eye doctor may choose to take photos in order to measure growth and/or astigmatism of the irregular tissue that may be a factor in declining vision. It’s imperative to visit your ophthalmologist since other more severe disorders can eventually appear that are like pterygia.


If pterygia become irritated and red, ointments or topical eye drops may be necessary in order to decrease the inflammation. If the pterygia remain irritated, get big enough to threaten your vision, or start to appear unsightly, they can be surgically removed. Sometimes they reappear upon surgical removal.

How to Prevent Pterygia

The best way to prevent pterygia from developing is to try and avoid exposure to certain environmental factors that encourage the condition. You can help prevent it by always wearing quality sunglasses or a hat in order to properly protect your eyes from dust particles, wind, and sunlight as well as the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays. If you’re already experiencing pterygia, try to limit your exposure to sunlight, pollen, dust, wind, and smoke to slow down its growth. This will help prevent any from recurring once they’re removed.

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