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All you Need to Know About Pterygium

You probably know that excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun is harmful to your skin and eyes. The eye, in particular, is a sensitive part of your body and can suffer from macular degeneration or certain types of cataracts among other diseases. One of the conditions developed sure to exposure to UV rays is the Pterygium, an ocular surface lesion and can lead to vision loss. Apart from the functional issues caused by Pterygium, it can also be a cosmetic nuisance to patients.

What is Pterygium?

Pterygium is formed on the sclera of the eye, the white part surrounding your cornea and extending to the optic nerve. This fleshy growth grows slowly and gradually within the eye and leads to a host of issues. Some patients often ignore the discomfort when growth first starts but there’s a lot of risks associated with letting go and not dealing with Pterygium in its early stages. Sometimes it grows so large that it starts taking up the space of your cornea. This, ultimately, blocks the light out and leads to vision complications.

Pterygia often grow from the inner corners of the eyes, closest to the nose. Made of collagen and fibrovascular tissue, it is asymptomatic. No one knows the exact cause of this benign growth but it is most likely caused by excessive sun exposure, wind, sand, and dust. If you keep your eyes protected, the growth of this tissue can be slowed down. From a cosmetic point of view and due to discomfort, it is imperative that you get your eyes checked and have a local optometrist diagnose it properly before you proceed to the next step.

Older people, particularly males are more predisposed to experience it. Other factors such as the location of the patient is also a contributing factor. If they reside near the equator, work outdoors and have constant exposure to sand, they are likely to suffer from this eye condition. The prevalence of pterygium is highest in the population living in tropical areas and much less in people residing in urban areas with a moderate climate.

There are several signs and symptoms which are associated with this eye condition. To begin with, there will be irritation in your eye accompanied by redness. You will also feel your vision is hazy and the presence of a foreign body in your eye. The condition appears as an elevated whitish or red-colored body. You may also experience burning and persistent irritation in your eye. Other complications of this condition include aberrations and astigmatism

Due to the similarity of Pterygia with Pinguecula, they can often be confused with one another. Although both are conjunctival growth disorders, there is a basic difference between them.

Pinguecula is formed due to the buildup of conjunctival tissue at the nasal or the place between sclera and cornea. On the other hand, Pterygium is a vascularized conjunctival tissue that can cloud the cornea and therefore decrease the quality of your vision.

What can be done to prevent pterygia?

As discussed earlier, this eye disorder is fairly common among individuals who are exposed to the sun for longer periods and spent most of their time outdoors near sandy or dusty placed. The condition is also referred to as ‘Surfer’s eye’ by some people because surfers receive a lot of sunlight and with the sun reflecting off the water, the exposure becomes tenfold.

If you cannot reduce your exposure to the sun, it is recommended that you purchase UV protected sunglasses and wear them when you step outside. You should also make sure that the UV glasses are 100% protected to save you from the harmful rays of the sun, otherwise, it will not be effective in preventing pterygia.

One risk associated with glasses which are not 100& UV protected because the shade from them will cause your pupils to widen. A widened pupil will allow more unfiltered UV rays to enter it, putting you more at risk than not wearing sunglasses at all.


Getting rid of a pterygium

If you’ve been diagnosed with pterygium even after you took the necessary steps to prevent it, its removal depends on the stage of its growth. If it feels like a sand a particle and is small in size, it can be treated with the help of eye drops. The prescribed eye drops will provide moisture to your eye and reduce swelling as well. Some doctors also prescribe using special contacts to shield the pterygia. The function of contacts is to protect the eye from dust and further sun exposure thereby slowing down the growth of the condition. The less sun you are exposed to, the more there are chances that growth stops.

If the pterygia are small and unobtrusive but cause acute inflammation, you may wither be prescribed topical steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents.

If the condition has worsened and it is impacting the quality of your vision, you will have to undergo surgery. Pterygium surgery is rather simple and doesn’t take more than 45 minutes to complete. The surgery takes place after sedation and the tissue is cleaned along with the area around it. After that, pterygium is carefully removed and an implant of scleral tissue is extracted from the eyelid and positioned in place of the pterygium. To secure the scleral tissue in the eye, special glue is used.

Post-surgery care is also fairly simple. After it takes place, avoid rubbing the eye even though you might feel the need for it. Also, it is important that you protect yourself from infection, something which is a common occurrence during recovery time. The doctor will give you a pad to cover the eye that will not only guard against contamination but also provide comfort.

There will be follow-up visits after the procedure takes place which you need to ensure. Instructions will be given to you by your surgeon about how to keep your eye clean and what medication to take for the healing of the eye.