pterygium (pronounced tur-IJ-ee-um), is a growth of pink, fleshy tissue on the conjunctiva, the clear tissue that lines your eyelids and covers your eyeball. It usually forms on the side closest to your nose and grows toward the pupil area.
It can look scary, but it isn’t cancer. The growth might spread slowly during your life or stop after a certain point. In extreme cases, it can cover your pupil and cause vision problems.
The growth could show up in one eye or both. When it affects both, it’s known as a bilateral pterygium.
Though it isn’t usually a serious condition, it can cause annoying symptoms. You might feel like you have something in your eye. Or it may get red and irritated and require medical or surgical treatment. You might also feel self-conscious because people may ask you about your eye being red all the time.
Sometimes, there are none — it just shows up.
When there are symptoms, your eye might:
If the growth gets onto your cornea (the pupil area of your eye), it could change its shape and cause blurry vision or double vision.
The things that make you most likely to get it include:
You’re most likely to get it if you live near the equator and you’re a man between 20 and 40. But it can affect anyone who lives in a sunny place
You probably won’t need treatment if your symptoms are mild. If the condition causes temporary redness or irritation, your doctor will treat it with:
Surgery for pterygium removal usually lasts no longer than 30 minutes, after which you likely will need to wear an eye patch for protection for a day or two. Some studies show recurrence rates up to 40 percent, while others have reported recurrence rates as low as 5 percent.
A drug that can help limit abnormal tissue growth and scarring during wound healing, such as mitomycin C, also may be applied topically at the time of surgery and/or afterward to reduce the risk of pterygium recurrence.
Yes. Wear sunglasses every day. That includes overcast days — clouds don’t stop ultraviolet (UV) light. Choose shades that block 99%-100% of both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.
Wraparound styles provide the best shield against ultraviolet light, dust, and wind. Wear them when you’re in the car, too. Unlike the windshield, your car’s side windows don’t protect you from UV rays.
Experts say to choose a hat with a brim to protect your eyes from UV light. And use artificial tears to keep your eyes moist in dry climates.