A pterygium (tuh-RIJ-ee-uhm) is an elevated, wedged-shaped bump on the eyeball that starts on the white of the eye (sclera) and can invade the cornea. If you have more than one of these eye growths, the plural form of the word is pterygia (tuh-RIJ-ee-ah).

Though it’s commonly called “surfer’s eye,” you don’t have to be a surfer or ever see the ocean to get a pterygium. But being in bright sunlight for long hours — especially when you are on water, which reflects the sun’s harmful UV rays — increases your risk.

Pterygia are benign (non-cancerous) growths, but they can permanently disfigure the eye. They also can cause discomfort and blurry vision.




Did you know…

Although ultraviolet radiation from the sun appears to be the primary cause for the development and growth of pterygia, dust and wind are sometimes implicated too, as is dry eye disease.

Pterygia usually develop in 30- to 50-year-olds, and these bumps on the eyeball rarely are seen in children. Having light skin and light eyes may put you at increased risk of getting a pterygium..


Frequently Asked Questions


What are the symptoms?

Sometimes, a pterygium causes no symptoms other than its appearance. An enlarging pterygium, however, may cause redness and inflammation.

A pterygium can progressively grow onto the cornea (the clear, outer layer of the eye). This can distort the shape of the cornea, causing a condition called astigmatism. The result can be blurred vision.

Symptoms of pterygium may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Sensation of a foreign body in the eye
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Gritty feeling

If you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms, contact your Ophthalmic Suites eye doctors to schedule a consultation.

In what ways can an eye doctor diagnose & treat Pterygium at Ophthalmic Suites?


Your Ophthalmic Suites eye doctors examine your eyes is the first step to making the correct diagnosis and receiving the appropriate treatment, if it is necessary. Your eye doctor will examine the front of your eyes with a slit lamp, a specialized microscope for eye examination. Early in the disease process, our eye doctors will take a conservative approach and treat with lubricating eye drops and recommend protective eye wear (to prevent further UV exposure) and use of a wide-brimmed hat. If the pterygium enlarges and grows onto the cornea towards the visual axis, the eye doctor will consider surgical intervention to halt any more damage and scarring to the eye.