Pterygium (Surfer’s Eye) – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

What is a Pterygium?

A pterygium, also known as surfer’s eye, is a non-cancerous growth that starts in the clear, thin tissue of the eye called the conjunctiva. It can remain small or grow large enough to cover the cornea resulting in loss of vision.

What causes a Pterygium?

The exact cause is unknown but pterygiums are associated with excessive exposure to wind, sunlight, or sand. It is twice as likely to occur in men as in women, and can occasionally occur in infants. Symptoms include persistent redness, inflammation, foreign body sensation, tearing, dryness, and itchy eyes. Advanced pterygium can affect vision as it invades the cornea.

How is a Pterygium Treated?

In almost all cases, a pterygium can be safely and effectively removed. The tissue that covers the sclera known as the conjunctiva is extracted and then transplanted by auto-grafting with the use of either sutures or a glue adhesive called Tisseel. Tisseel is safe and effective in reducing early postoperative complications and patient discomfort. Follow the link to watch a Pterygium Removal procedure performed and narrated by Dr. Gabriel Chu.

Day of Surgery:

Please bring a driver. No need to stop Aspirin or blood thinners. You can eat and drink as per normal.

After Surgery:

It is normal to expect redness in the eye and pink discharge in tears for up to 1-2 days. A contact lens will be placed on the eye during your surgery and left on for 5 days for healing and comfort. Blurry vision is normal while the contact lens is on the eye. The contact lens can be removed earlier to help improve vision but there might be some discomfort. Modify work duties due to blurry vision. No driving is recommended until the contact lens is removed. A Prescription will be given for the appropriate antibiotic drops or ointment. Please call our office if you have any questions or concerns. If we are closed and you feel this is an emergency, please see your family physician, walk-in clinic, or the nearest emergency department.

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