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What is Pterygium?


Pterygium eye troubleEven though we welcome summer, we once again need to take measures to safeguard ourselves from the effects of the intense ultraviolet light and other seasonal elements. A PTERYGIUM, pronounced with a silent “P”, is most commonly experienced by those of us who spend a significant time out of doors, especially in the summer sun and wind. A pterygium is a fibrous, fleshy growth on the surface of the clear cornea, usually beginning on the inner aspect of the eye. A degenerative change in normally existing structures, it occurs most frequently in patients who are exposed to lots of sun, wind, dust, or harsh climates. Although most commonly seen in the tropics and in areas of wide temperature swings, pterygia are also seen in temperature climates among individuals who work or spend much of their time outdoors. They are three times more common in men than women.

Dryness and exposure to ultraviolet light seem to be important factors in their development. They tend to be slowly progressive, but many patients? pterygia stabilize and do not seem to cause problems.

Sometimes patients mistake pterygia for cataracts, but cataracts form behind the colored part of the eye in the lens and are not easily seen with the naked eye, as are pterygia.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms are not severe, but they may include vision, irritation, and complaints of dry eyes, (itching, a burning feeling, or a scratchy sensation). During times of growth, they appear swollen and red.

What is the Treatment?

The best form of therapy is prevention, such as wearing hats and dark glasses in bright sunshine. No treatment is necessary if the pterygium is not causing any noticeable problems or symptoms. Drops may aid the dryness and the intermittent inflammation associated with this condition.

If clear vision is threatened by the presence of a pterygium, surgical excision is indicated. Other indications for surgery are increasing astigmatism or the desire for removal for cosmetic reasons.

Surgical removal is complicated by two factors:

  • Pterygia often recur, sometimes quite rapidly after removal. Certain forms of radiation therapy and drops are available to reduce this risk. Nevertheless, recurrence is a difficult problem especially in high-risk climate areas. The preventative measures mentioned above are critical in the postoperative period. Rarely is corneal transplantation indicated with recurrent pterygium.
  • Despite adequate excision, symptoms of dryness and irritation may persist.

Do You Have Pterygium?

The best way to find out exactly what’s causing your vision problems is to make an appointment with an eye care professional. At The Eye Centers of Racine and Kenosha, we will check your eyes thoroughly to understand the reasons for your vision problems. And we’ll explain your choices for correcting the problems.

Here at The Eye Centers of Racine & Kenosha we keep up to date on new research and new treatments. Call 262 637 0500 today!  to scheduled your appointment.

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