ZocdocAnswersWhat is Pterygium?

Question

What is Pterygium?

My dad recently had to go in to a doctor to get some attention for a weird growth on his eye. His doctor called it pterygium and said it was really nothing to worry about. I just don't understand what this means. Won't it eventually cause him vision problems? Shouldn't we treat it?

Answer

A pterygium is a relatively common condition. If you have concerns, I recommend you discuss this condition with you doctor--as there is rarely medical intervention required. Pterygium is a triangular shaped overgrowth of conjunctival tissue (inner skin of eyelid) onto the cornea (the white of the eye). They most often occur from the nasal side, growing from the nose outward. Most of the time the growth does not cover the iris or pupil--so there is no change in vision. As such opthamologists (eye specialists), rarely are required to intervene. These growths are benign, they are NOT cancer. Therefore there is only two risks--(1) it covers the visual part of the eye as described above and (2) it aesthetically is unappealing. One last complication: these can sometimes get inflamed and cause eye irritation. This can be treated with saline eye drops. The medical community does not completely understand why this occurs. We do not it is related to light's effect on the tissue (UV rays). It is more common in people who live in a tropical region. If you are concerned with the size, I recommend you see an ophthalmologist. They can follow the lesion and if it does grow or does bother him it can be surgically removed. That being said, this is rarely needed.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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