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Pterygium is a common eye condition that involves the growth of tissue on the surface of your eye. While pterygium is usually harmless, it can sometimes cause discomfort and vision problems. 

At Palmer Eye Center, we offer a range of eye care services, including diagnosing and treating pterygium, to help our patients maintain good eye health and vision.

What is Pterygium?

Pterygium is a common eye condition that affects the conjunctiva, which is the transparent membrane that covers the white part of your eye. It’s also known as “surfer’s eye” because it’s often seen in people who spend a lot of time in the sun and wind.

Pterygium is a growth of tissue that starts on the conjunctiva and grows inward onto the cornea, which is the clear front part of the eye. It can cause irritation, redness, and dryness in the affected eye, and in severe cases, it can even cause vision problems.

The exact cause of pterygium is not fully understood, but it’s thought to be related to long-term exposure to UV radiation from the sun and wind, as well as dry and dusty environments. People who spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in tropical or subtropical climates, are at a higher risk of developing pterygium.

If you think you may have a pterygium or are experiencing any eye discomfort or vision changes, it’s important to see an eye doctor for an evaluation. Early detection and treatment can help prevent complications and preserve your vision.

Does Pterygium Cause Any Symptoms?

Depending on the size and location of the growth, pterygium can cause various symptoms. Some common symptoms of pterygium include discomfort or irritation in the eye, which can itch, burn or feel gritty.

Additionally, the growth of tissue on the eye can lead to redness and inflammation, which can cause a cosmetic concern for some people. Pterygium can also interfere with the normal production and distribution of tears, leading to dry eye syndrome. 

This can cause eye fatigue, blurry vision, and discomfort. If your pterygium becomes large enough to extend onto the cornea, it can cause astigmatism or other vision distortions that can affect your vision clarity.

In severe cases, pterygium can even cause vision loss if it grows over the center of the cornea, which is responsible for clear vision. Not everyone with pterygium will experience the same symptoms, and in some cases, the growth may be small and not cause any noticeable changes in the eye. 

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important to see your eye doctor at Palmer Eye Center for an evaluation and appropriate treatment.

How is Pterygium Diagnosed?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of pterygium or think you may be developing a pterygium, your eye doctor at Palmer Eye Center will be able to diagnose you after performing a thorough eye exam. During the exam, the doctor will perform a variety of tests and evaluations to assess the health of your eyes and determine the presence and severity of the pterygium.

One of the primary tests used to diagnose pterygium is a slit-lamp exam, which involves using a special microscope to examine the eye in detail. Your eye doctor at Palmer Eye Center will use the slit-lamp to evaluate the size and location of the growth and determine whether it’s causing any changes in the cornea or other structures of the eye.

It’s important to note that pterygium can sometimes be mistaken for other eye conditions, such as pinguecula or a corneal scar. That’s why seeing your eye doctor for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment is essential.

How is Pterygium Treated?

If you are diagnosed with pterygium, your eye doctor will determine the best treatment for you, depending on the severity of the growth and the symptoms it’s causing. Sometimes pterygium may not require any treatment.

If this is your case, your eye doctor may monitor the growth with regular eye exams. If the pterygium is causing discomfort or affecting vision, there are several treatment options available. 

In mild cases, over-the-counter lubricating eye drops may help relieve dryness and irritation. If the pterygium is large or causing significant vision problems, surgery may be necessary to remove the growth. 

Pterygium removal surgery is typically done on an outpatient basis, meaning you can go home the same day. Recovery time can vary depending on the extent of the procedure, but most people can resume their normal activities within a few days to a few weeks after the procedure. 

However, even after pterygium removal surgery, there is a chance that the pterygium may grow back, particularly if you continue to be exposed to UV radiation or other environmental factors that increase the risk of recurrence. Regular eye exams and proper eye protection can help reduce the risk of recurrence and preserve your eye health.

What Can I Do to Prevent Pterygium?

While it’s not always possible to prevent pterygium, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing this eye condition. One of the most important things you can do to prevent pterygium is to protect your eyes from UV radiation. 

UV rays from the sun can damage the conjunctiva and increase the risk of pterygium and other eye conditions. To protect your eyes, wear sunglasses with UV protection whenever you’re outside, even on cloudy days. 

You can also wear a wide-brimmed hat for additional protection. In addition to UV protection, maintaining good eye hygiene can also help prevent pterygium. 

Avoid rubbing your eyes, as this can irritate the conjunctiva and increase the risk of growth. Finally, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk of pterygium and other eye conditions. 

Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants can help protect your eyes from damage, while regular exercise can help improve circulation and reduce inflammation throughout your body.

If you have any concerns about your eye health or are at increased risk of developing pterygium, talk to your eye doctor at Palmer Eye Center in Tallahassee, Florida, about steps you can take to reduce your risk and maintain good eye health.

Are you experiencing symptoms of pterygium or think you may be developing this eye condition? Schedule an appointment at Palmer Eye Center in Tallahassee, FL, today!

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