If you live in a sunny climate, you can increase your risk of developing a pterygium in your eye, which is a growth caused by being exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays for many hours a day. At Hawaii Vision Specialists in Hilo, Hawaii, the expert vision care team provides treatment for a pterygium, including pterygium surgery if necessary. You don’t have to leave the Big Island to get state-of-the-art treatment for a pterygium. Call the office to schedule a consultation.
Also known as surfer’s eye, a pterygium is a wedge-shaped bump on your eyeball that begins on the white part and may invade your cornea. Even if you’re not a surfer, you can get a pterygium from being in bright sunlight for long hours each day. Pterygia are especially common for men and women who live near water since it reflects the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays into the eyes, increasing their risk of developing one or more of these growths.
A pterygium usually grows in the side of your eyeball. You may not notice any symptoms, but if the pterygium is large enough, it can cause an itchy, gritty sensation in your eye. It can also feel like you always have something in your eye that causes it to become red and inflamed.
If a pterygium gets too big, it can invade your cornea and distort the shape of your eye. This can lead to astigmatism and make your vision blurry.
Pterygium surgery is often the most effective treatment method for a pterygium, and there are several techniques available. Your ophthalmologist will determine which type of procedure will work best for your condition. Typically, during surgery, your surgeon will remove the growth from your eye and apply medication to help prevent scar tissue from forming.
Your doctor may also take tissue from the conjunctiva — the clear, thin membrane that covers the inner surface of your eyelids — to fill in the area where the pterygium was removed. This will help prevent a pterygium from growing back. Pterygium surgery usually takes about 30 minutes, and you’ll need to wear an eye patch for a couple of days while your eye heals.
Before pterygium surgery, your doctor may recommend more conservative treatments, such as prescription lubricants or a mild steroid eye drop to reduce swelling and redness in your eye. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe contact lenses to protect your eye from irritation from the pterygium.
If you spend a lot of time outside, especially at the beach, regular eye exams can help keep your eyes healthy. Call Hawaii Vision Specialists to schedule an exam and to learn how your pterygium can be treated.