Pterygium, from the Greek pterygos meaning “wing”, is a common eye lesion originating in the white skin of the eye (conjunctiva) and progresses onto the cornea. The lesion occurs more frequently at the nasal side and has a characteristic wing-like appearance. They often feel irritated, dry and scratchy as well as cause the appearance of having red eyes or being “stoned or drunk” all the time. If the pterygium is allowed to progress far enough over the cornea, it can cause vision loss or blindness.
The cause is unknown, however incidence is much higher in latitudes nearer the equator and in individuals with a history of increased sun and UV exposure. Some studies have shown a slightly higher incidence in males than females, which may only reflect a higher rate of UV radiation. Here in the islands, surfers and athletes tend to be affected frequently.
As UV radiation is believed to play an important role in the cause and progression, avoidance of UV exposure is important for primary prevention. Ocular surface lubrication may also help. If recommended by your doctor, surgical excision is possible to remove it and improve symptoms, vision and appearances.
UV radiation, proximity to the equator, tropical locations, dry climates, outdoor lifestyle.
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