A pterygium may be known as “surfer’s eye,” but it can affect anyone, and people who spend a lot of time in the sun are at an especially high risk. At Rosemead Eye Center in Rosemead, California, board-certified eye physician and surgeon Elson Lai, MD, performs pterygium surgery as needed to prevent scarring and other complications. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone.
A pterygium is a benign, or noncancerous, growth of pink, fleshy tissue on your eyeball. It specifically affects your conjunctiva, the thin, clear layer of tissue that lines your inner eyelids and the front surface of your eyes. It usually forms on the part of your eyeball that’s closer to your nose and then grows inward toward your pupil.
Pterygium is also known as “surfer’s eye” because it’s caused by too much exposure to harmful UV (ultraviolet) radiation from the sun. It affects people who spend a lot of time outside in bright sunlight. Your risk is especially high when you’re near water because water reflects UV rays.
In addition to UV exposure, dust and wind can also play roles in the formation of pterygia. They’re also a complication of dry eye syndrome and usually affect people ages 30-50.
Not every pterygium requires surgery, and many cause no symptoms or only mild symptoms. When pterygia cause symptoms, they include:
Dr. Lai may recommend or prescribe moisturizing or steroid eye drops or ointment to relieve these symptoms. Milder cases usually respond to this nonsurgical treatment.
When a pterygium grows larger, you may feel like something’s caught in your eye. If the growth is large enough, it may cause vision problems, including blurred vision.
Dr. Lai may recommend surgery if your pterygium is blocking your vision or causing severe discomfort, or if eye drops and ointment don’t relieve your symptoms.
In some cases, pterygia cause scarring, which leads to vision loss. Dr. Lai closely monitors your condition to determine if you need surgery.
Pterygium surgery is a quick, safe, simple procedure performed in the office of Rosemead Eye Center. The minimally invasive procedure lasts 30-45 minutes.
When you receive the surgery, you’re sedated, and your eye and the surrounding area are numbed to prevent pain and discomfort.
After the surgery, expect to wear an eye patch to protect the area for a day or two. You can likely return to work and your usual activities the following day. Dr. Lai provides you with instructions to care for your eye as it heals.
To learn more about pterygium surgery, schedule an appointment at Rosemead Eye Center online or over the phone.