Pterygium is a wedge-shaped benign (non-cancerous) growth located on the conjunctiva, which is the clear and thin tissue laying on the sclera (white part of the eye). The term “pterygium” is derived from the Greek word “pterygion” which means “wing”.

Pterygium Causes

The exact cause is unknown, but it appears more commonly in the eyes of individuals with an overabundance of outdoor exposure (sunlight and wind); for instance, those who work full-time outdoors. It is thought to be associated with, and possibly caused by, ultraviolet-light exposure (e.g. sunshine), low humidity, and dust.

Pterygium Risk Factors

Risk factors are exposure to dusty, sandy, sunny or windblown areas. Construction workers, farmers, fishermen and people living near the equator are frequently often affected by pterygium, which by the way is rare in children.

A pterygium grows predominantly from the nasal side of the sclera because the cornea acts as a lens for sunlight on the nasal (or medial) side but not on the lateral (or temporal side) due to the shadow that is cast by the nose.



Pterygium Symptoms

The most prevalent symptom of a pterygium is a painless area of raised white tissue and blood vessels on the inner or outer edge of the cornea. Sometimes this area becomes inflamed to the point of causing burning or irritation, possibly like there is a foreign body in the eye.

Pterygium Diagnosis

A physical examination of the eyes and eyelids by Dr. Singh can confirm or dismiss the diagnosis. Special tests are usually not needed.

Pterygium Treatment

A pterygium generally requires no treatment unless it grows to such an extent of actually obstructing vision, inducing astigmatism or affecting the cornea. However, some patients choose surgery if the growth affects their looks or causes discomfort, irritation, etc.

Results of removing a pterygium are usually good after it is removed; however, it can return.


Pterygium Prevention

Protecting the eyes from ultraviolet light is the best preventative measure known. Those spending a high percentage of time outdoors may be wise to consider wearing protective sunglasses (especially with side shields) and wide brimmed hats as well as using artificial tears throughout the day as this may help prevent pterygium formation or stop further growth.