A pterygium is a fleshy triangular tissue that grows over the cornea, usually on the inner corner of the eye. Sometimes, it grows big enough that it interferes with vision. As the pterygium develops, it may alter the shape of the cornea, causing astigmatism.

Symptoms of a pterygium:

 

  • Tissue growing over the eye
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Tearing

Causes of a pterygium:

The exact cause of pterygia isn’t known, but it’s thought to be linked to:

  • Long-term exposure to sunlight
  • Dry, dusty conditions
  • Age: Ptergia is typically found in adults over the age of 30.

Diagnosing a pterygium:

Chances are, you’ll notice a pterygium. Your eye doctor can also diagnose it during a routine eye exam.

Treatment of a pterygium:

Eye drops or ointment can be used to reduce the irritation caused by a pterygium. If the pterygium grows toward the central cornea,it may need to be removed surgically. Prevention is important. It’s a good idea to protect your eyes with sunglasses if you’ll be in the sun or a dusty, dry environment.

Photos courtesy of N. Friedman, M.D.