Patient Education - Pterygium
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Pterygium

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A pterygium is a non-cancerous growth of the clear, thin tissue (conjunctiva) that lays over the white part of the eye (sclera). One or both eyes may be involved.

Causes

The cause is unknown, but it is more common in people with excess outdoor exposure to sunlight and wind, such as those who work outdoors.
Risk factors are exposure to sunny, dusty, sandy, or windblown areas. Farmers, fishermen, and people living near the equator are often affected. Pterygium is rare in children.

Symptoms

The main symptom of a pterygium is a painless area of raised white tissue, with blood vessels on the inner or outer edge of the cornea. Sometimes it may become inflamed and cause burning, irritation, or a feeling like there's something foreign in the eye.

Treatment

No treatment is needed unless the pterygium begins to block vision or causes symptoms that are hard to control. Then it should be removed with surgery. Wear protective glasses and a hat with a brim to prevent the condition from returning.
Most pterygia cause no problems and do not need treatment. If a pterygium affects the cornea, results are usually good after it is removed.
A pterygium can return after it is removed.