What is Pterygium or Surfer Eye?

Pterygium, also known as a surfer’s eye disease and is an abnormal growth starts showing up on the conjunctive of the eye, which is triangular shaped and may cause disruptions in your daily lifestyle. To put it simply, a pterygium in eye is caused due to excess exposure to the sun and its harmful rays.

This blog will explain pterygium, its treatments, causes, and some facts you need to know about the disease.


Pterygium: A Brief Overview

The major identifying key with pterygium is the growth that occurs during the disease, resembling pink flesh that starts covering the eye’s white area. It also covers the space inside the eyelid, which causes extreme discomfort and irritation. Pterygium begins from the corner of the eye, mostly from where the nose ends.

It mostly occurs in aged people whose eyes have already become vulnerable to diseases. This disease occurs in one eye at a time, but in rare instances, it might happen in both eyes simultaneously, known as bilateral pterygium.

The growth is painless, but the side effects of the change can cause discomfort and affect overall eyesight. When it comes to treatment, it isn’t necessary to get surgery. Eye ointments and drops can control the condition unless the condition is severe. In the latter, the condition can only be treated by surgery.

Pterygium Symptoms

Pterygium does not have any prominent early signs. Therefore, in the early stages, it is easy to ignore the warnings. Here is a list of symptoms you might face.

  • Irregular growth in the eye 

  • Burning sensation

  • Farsightedness

  • Constant dried eyes  

  • Swelling around the eyes

  • Feeling that something is in the eye- little particle/grit

  • Teary eyes and discomfort

  • Blurred vision

These are some of the early signs which are easy to ignore but should not be overlooked. Once the pterygium starts growing, it affects the eyesight and routine activities become tough.

Why is Pterygium Called Surfer’s Eye?

Pterygium has been given the pet name ‘surfer’s eye’ since the listed causes for this disease are very similar to a surfer’s lifestyle. How is that? Surfers work in sunny, windy, dusty grounds/conditions, and all these elements aggravate pterygium.

Pterygium Causes: Who Can Catch it?

There are no given criteria to catch pterygium. However, only external factors can trigger and aggravate this disease. Moreover, people who come in contact with the sun without proper protection are prone to get pterygium.

A woman named Tanisha visited our clinic once; she had booked a session with us online. She looked extremely tense, and during her appointment with the doctor, she continuously kept crying while she told her what she was going through. Tanisha told us how her eyes were getting covered with a muscle-like abnormality.

When we asked her about her external environment, she told us she works as a lifeguard at a beach in Goa and needs to be outdoors for the whole day. We could see clear signs of pterygium, so we ran some tests to confirm her condition.

Pterygium Diagnosis

Diagnosis of pterygium is done with the help of a slit lamp. It is a microscope that easily focuses on the tapered slit in the eye. A slit lamp helps the doctor get a holistic look at the eye and thoroughly understand the condition. It is used for most cases of this condition. However, there are other tests available like:

  • Corneal Topography 

In this process, a 3D blueprint of the cornea is created using a computer to get a better understanding of the condition.

  • Visual Acuity Test 

This test is performed to check eyesight; different symbols and letters are shown to the patient from 20 feet.

Pterygium is completely treatable 

Pterygium Treatment: Is it Treatable?

with the right medications and, if needed, surgeries. However, the condition may worsen with time, causing damage to the eyes, which is tough to recover.

In the initial stages, the doctor will prescribe eye drops and ointments to lubricate the eye and bring down the discomfort. They also help with the pain and swelling around the eyes and in the eyeball. Other than these medications, the doctor will also recommend at-home warm compressing.

Pterygium Surgery

Before the surgery, a thorough discussion occurs between the surgeon and the patient; the patient is given options for removing pterygium. A treatment is chosen according to the disease’s size and intensity. The surgery aims to remove the pterygium and fill the area with conjunctiva tissues so the site can heal soundly; filling the space also ensures the disease will not reoccur.

Post-Surgery Care

Once the surgery is completed, the patients can return home with an eye patch (for 24 hours), so the eye can heal completely. An appointment for the next day is mostly kept to ensure no signs of infection are present in the eye.

A set of medications is prescribed with antibiotics and topical steroids to make the healing process quicker and avoid infections. The medicines also remove the changes in post-surgery scars. Once the medication is over, an appointment is kept to check the condition of the eye again, and accordingly, further healing process takes place.

Tanisha had been diagnosed with pterygium and underwent surgery, and after her eye had healed, she came to us for her final appointment. We could sense a clear sense of relief in her eyes and body language. Her eyes were back to normal now, we used our best-in-class ophthalmological equipment for the surgery, making the healing process smooth and easy.

We gave her the required set of guidelines, so the condition doesn’t reoccur. Tanisha was told not to go in the sun without protective sunglass and long hours at the beach should be avoided until another 15-20 days.


Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital | Pterygium Treatment

We at Dr Agarwals eye clinic have a panel of skilled ophthalmologists with decades of experience in eye conditions and surgeries. Our infrastructure and equipment are used from a patient’s perspective to provide the safest experience for our patients. The technology we use is spot-on and of the best quality; each tool is high-tech to ensure a smooth process.

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