A pterygium is a benign growth of tissue that occurs on the conjunctiva, the clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye. This growth is also known as a "surfer's eye" because it is commonly found in people who spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in bright sunlight.
Pterygium usually begins as a small, triangular-shaped pink or red patch on the conjunctiva. Over time, it can grow larger and thicker, eventually covering part of the cornea. Although a pterygium is not cancerous, it can cause irritation, redness, and discomfort. It can also interfere with vision if it grows large enough to affect the cornea.
Pterygium is more common in people who live in sunny, dry climates and in those who spend a lot of time outdoors, such as surfers and other water sports enthusiasts. It is also more common in people who are older, male, and have fair skin.
Treatment for a pterygium usually involves the use of artificial tears to lubricate the eye and reduce irritation. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the growth. The surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis, and most people recover fully within a few weeks.
To prevent the development of a pterygium, it is important to protect your eyes from excessive exposure to sunlight. This can be done by wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) light, a wide-brimmed hat, and avoiding prolonged exposure to bright sunlight.