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Pterygium Treatment Options

A pterygium (tuh-RIJ-ee-um) is a growth of fleshy tissue that forms on the sclera, or the white part of your eye. Pterygia are sometimes referred to as “surfer’s eye.” These bumps are non-cancerous, but can be very annoying to deal with and tend to cause discomfort or blurry vision.

What Are the Causes?

The exact cause of pterygia is unknown, though there are several speculative factors that may contribute to the condition. These can include:

  • UV rays
  • Dust
  • Wind
  • Pollen
  • Smoke

People who regularly experience the above elements are at a higher risk of developing a pterygium. This is especially true if you aren’t using eye protection when spending extensive amounts of time outdoors.

Are There Any Symptoms?

While the growth itself is typically painless, you will likely experience some eye discomfort. Most patients will feel a gritty, itchy, or even burning sensation. The discomfort can be described as feeling very similar to having a foreign body stuck in your eye. Sometimes your pterygium will become inflamed, causing red or bloodshot eyes.

What Are My Treatment Options?

For a mild case, you can expect a non-invasive treatment plan due to the size or severity of the growth. You can be prescribed a topical ointment or mild steroid drops to help ease inflammation and reduce any discomfort.

For a more severe case, though, you may need to consider the surgical route. Pterygium surgeries are outpatient procedures and take about 30-45 minutes. Your ophthalmologist will remove the growth and use tissue to fill the empty space where the growth previously was. Either glue or a suture is used to secure the tissue to the area.

According to a study done by AAO, using glue rather than sutures allows for shorter surgery time and less postoperative discomfort. Speak with your ophthalmologist about the best method for your procedure.

For more information about pterygia, please contact us at North Toronto Eye Care today!


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