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What is Pterygium?

If you are a surfer, you may have an eye condition called Pterygium, also known as “surfer’s eye”. Pterygium is a noncancerous fleshy growth of the tissue on the white of the eye, called the sclera. The pterygium normally grows from the inner corner of the eye or the nasal side of the eye. It usually grows slowly overtime and may grow over the cornea. If the pterygium is big enough, it can cause redness, inflammation and slowly affect the shape of the cornea, leading to an obstruction of vision. Common symptoms of pterygium include eye irritation such as redness, burning and itching, a feeling as if something is in the eye or grittiness and obstruction or blurred vision.

Risk factors include:

  • Mostly common in men, rather than women
  • Prolonged exposure to ultra violent light
  • Living in sunny climates, like Hawaii
  • Mostly seen in people ages 20-40
  • Irritants like dust and wind

Treatments for pterygium include:

  • Eye drops
    • If symptoms are mild enough and does not interfere with vision, treatment or surgery is not required. In this case, eye drops may be used to alleviate mild symptoms like redness and irritation.
  • Surgical removal
    • Surgical removal is recommended when experiencing significant discomfort or an obstruction of vision. A person may also elect for pterygium surgery for cosmetic purposes.
  • Prevention
    • This is the best treatment for pterygium.

To aide in the prevention of pterygium, we recommend doing the following:

  • Wear protective eye wear
    • While it’s important to protect our skin from the sun, many people forget about protecting their eyes. We recommend wearing sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays as well as guard against blue light. It is also important to get protective eye wear that guard against irritants like dust and wind.
  • Get your eyes examined by an eye care professional
    • An ophthalmologist is an eye care professional who is able to help determine the severity of the pterygium and determine if treatment is needed. An ophthalmologist can also see if the growth in the eye is cancerous.

If you are looking for relief from the symptoms caused by pterygium or if you are looking for an eye doctor that is experienced in the treatment of pterygium, call EyeSight Hawaii at 808-735-1935 to schedule an appointment with cornea specialist Dr. Olkowski, ophthalmologist Honolulu.