Pterygium (Surfer’s Eye)

PTERYGIUM (SURFER'S EYE) redness

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview

The conjunctiva is a thin film of the vascularised mucous membrane that forms a protective covering on the inner surface of the eyelids and across the white of the eye. Part of its function is to keep the eye lubricated. Some people tend to have abnormally dry eyes, often as a result of excessive recreational or occupational exposure to sunlight and dry, dusty conditions. This can lead to the formation of an extra fleshy growth known as a pterygium in the conjunctiva of the eye. The growth spreads slowly across the cornea and can even cover part of the pupil, hindering clear vision. However, a pterygium is not a malignant growth and can be excised by surgery if required. The term originates from ‘pterygion’, the Greek word for ‘wing’ or ‘fin’. This is a reference to the shape of the extra growth.

 

What is Surfer’s Eye?

PTERYGIUM (SURFER'S EYE) rednessA pterygium is a benign fibrovascular growth that arises in the conjunctiva forming a pinkish, translucent patch across the eye. Typically it originates on the side of the eye closer to the nose and extends outward across the white sclera and towards the cornea in a wedge-shaped form. If the growth extends across the pupil of the eye, it can interfere with vision. Pterygia sometimes appear on the distant side of the eye, closer to the ear, but this is less common.

Although a pterygium is usually harmless, it can cause a disconcerting sensation of having something stuck in the eye. This is particularly so if it extends across the field of vision. It can become itchy and produce an irritating, burning sensation. Usually, a pterygium will arise in one eye, but the condition can also be bilateral, affecting both eyes. It consists of three main parts. Its advancing edge, called the cap, is a greyish portion lacking blood vessels. This is followed by the head, a relatively thicker area containing blood vessels. Lastly, there is the body which is the fleshy, vascularised bulk of the growth.

 

What Factors are Responsible For This Condition?

A pterygium is an acquired condition believed to be caused by certain environmental factors. According to some sources, this growth arises as a result of degeneration of the conjunctiva. However, the discovery of certain genetic changes in the cells of the pterygium suggests that it might actually represent uncontrolled growth, rather like a tumor. Either way, there is a proven association between exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Pterygia tend to appear in people who spend long hours outdoors in the sunlight and also exposed to wind and dust. Hence, this condition is more prevalent in tropical regions. Men tend to be affected more often than women. However, this is probably on account of differences in occupational patterns rather than any inherent physiological or genetic differences. Causes and risk factors are listed below:

  • Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays, particularly from the sun. Hence, prevalence is higher in regions closer to the equator.
  • Prolonged exposure to windy and dusty conditions.
  • Dryness in the eyes.
  • Prevalence is higher in those between 20 to 40 years of age.
  • A pterygium may arise from another kind of abnormal growth called a pinguecula. This is a small and yellowish patch of thickened conjunctiva usually present across the cornea and visible against the white of the eye. It arises as a result of localized degeneration of the conjunctival tissue caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

 

What Does A Pterygium Look and Feel Like?

PTERYGIUM (SURFER'S EYE)A person with a pterygium in their eye may experience the following symptoms:

  • A sensation of having an irritant in the eye.
  • Burning or itching in the eye.
  • Redness in the eye.
  • A blurring of vision.
  • Obstruction of vision to some degree.
  • Some patients complain of photophobia or increased sensitivity to light.

 

Are There Any Complications?

Presence of a pterygium may make it difficult for the patient to wear contact lenses. In instances where the growth becomes large enough to impinge upon vision, surgical removal may be advised. This course of action may also be called for if the growth is prone to frequent inflammation and irritation. However, it is possible for the growth to reappear after surgery, in which case alternate courses of treatment such as chemotherapy may be advised. A recurrent pterygium may be more problematic than the initial growth. These tend to be more prone to inflammation and show relatively aggressive growth. It is possible for the cornea to be seriously damaged by a pterygium.

 

What Does Diagnosis of Surfer’s Eye Involve?

PTERYGIUM (SURFER'S EYE) blurredA pterygium is clearly evident upon visual examination.

Routine ophthalmological tests may be necessary to assess the extent of vision impairment in case of any. It is also important to differentiate a true pterygium from a pseudopterygium.

The latter is an adhesion in the conjunctiva that develops following trauma such as chemical burns or ulceration of the cornea. This does not, however, grow or progress once it has appeared.

 

Treatment and prevention

Treatment

  • For mild cases, doctors will prescribe eye drops or ointments to reduce the irritation, itching, and redness.
  • Steroids may be prescribed as well to reduce the inflammation that is caused due to the constant irritation.
  • Surgery to remove the pterygium will be conducted if there is severe irritation, the possibility of loss of vision, blurry vision (astigmatism), and prolonged irritation.
  • Surgery might also be considered to remove it for cosmetic reasons.
  • Post the surgery steroid based eye drops will be prescribed to reduce the inflammation.

Prevention

  • Wear sunglasses when you go out during the daytime.
  • Protect your eyes from heavy wind, dust, smoke and other irritants.
  • Wash your eyes regularly, as this infection can be caused due to prolonged irritants.
  • Keep your eyes slightly wet by blinking frequently.

 

Facts

  • Pterygium is also known as surfer’s eye and farmer’s eye; this is because this condition is caused due to spending prolonged hours under the sun.

Facts

  • There is a 30-40% chance for the pterygium to grow back post surgery.
  • It is most commonly seen in people under the age of 40 years.

Facts

  • It is most common among those living near the equator.
  • Men have a higher chance of developing this condition when compared to women.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Wash your eyes regularly, this helps in removing irritants.
  • Use sunglasses; they protect your eyes from UV rays.
  • Use eye drops to keep your eyes slightly wet.
Don'ts
  • Rub your eyes, doing so tends to cause more irritation.
  • Leave your eyes unprotected from smoke, dust, chemicals etc. this could aggravate the symptoms.
  • Forget to clean your contact lenses regularly, if there is any dirt accumulated in them, it may lead to severe irritation and redness.

 

 

 

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The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
Coconut sugar: What is it and is it healthier than table sugar? In the long list of things that the wonderful coconut gives us, coconut sugar is another remarkable addition.…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
ANTIPHOSPHOLIPIDANTIBODY(APL)_IgG
Antiphospholipid (APL) antibody-IgG The Antiphospholipid Antibody testing is a blood test used to determine an autoimmune disorder called Antiphospholipid syndrome linked…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…