A pterygium is a condition that causes an elevated wedge-shaped area on the eyeball that begins in the white region, or sclera, and can stretch into the cornea. It’s often referred to as “Surfer’s Eye” even though people who have never touched a surfboard can still experience it. It occurs as a result of spending hours in bright sunlight. People who swim, boat, or otherwise spend time on or around water on sunny days are at a greater risk because of UV rays that are reflected into the eye.
Pterygium Causes & Symptoms
UV radiation is the primary cause of pterygium. Dust and wind can also aggravate the problem. It’s more likely to appear in the eyes of adults ages 30 to 50. People with light skin and eyes are at a greater risk. You may be experiencing Surfer’s Eye if you notice:
- Burning sensation in the eye
- Feeling like something is in your eye
- Inflammation and red eyes
Many cases are mild and do not require medical attention. The recommended treatment will vary based on the severity of the problem. If the pterygium moves too far into the cornea, it can change the shape of the eye and cause astigmatism and other vision changes. A small pterygium may be treated with steroid eye drops.
In cases that are more severe and involve the cornea, pterygium surgery may be recommended. There are usually no visible scars left after the patient has healed. The patient may experience some discomfort, but it’s generally very minor and can be managed with over-the-counter medications and an ice pack. As the weather is turning warmer causing more people to spend time outdoors, this is a great occasion to remind everyone to wear UV blocking sunglasses.
If you think you are experiencing Surfer’s Eye, contact Grosinger, Spigelman & Grey, Michigan’s Leading Eye Care Physicians, located in Southeast Michigan to schedule an appointment.
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