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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is pterygium?

Pterygium is a growth over a section of your eye that slowly appears over time. It often grows on the inner edge of your eye between your pupil and your nose. It may also grow on the outer edge of your eye, between your pupil and the side of your face. Pterygium may affect one or both eyes.

What increases my risk for pterygium?

  • Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light or sunlight, especially sunlight reflected off snow or water
  • Long-term exposure to dry, windy, or dusty conditions

What are the signs and symptoms of pterygium?

  • Yellow patch or bump on your eye
  • Itchy, burning, or dry, gritty feeling in your eye
  • Eye redness, swelling, or irritation
  • Blurred or impaired vision

How is pterygium diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your eye and ask you about your signs and symptoms. Tell your provider if you have been exposed to sunlight or dust over a long period of time without wearing eye protection. Your provider may also use a microscope with a strong light to look inside your eye.

How may pterygium be treated?

You may not need treatment unless your condition bothers you or affects your vision.

  • Lubricating eye drops help moisten and soothe your eyes if they are irritated.
  • Steroidal eye drops help reduce swelling and irritation.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove the growth from your eye. Ask your healthcare provider about surgery or other treatment you may need.

What are the risks of pterygium?

Surgery may cause swelling, irritation, or infection. Your eyesight may also not be as sharp as before. Your pterygium may grow back after surgery. Without treatment, your symptoms such as swelling or burning may become worse. A pterygium that grows too large can affect your vision.

How can I help prevent pterygium?

  • Wear UV-protectant sunglasses or eyewear to shield your eyes from dust, wind, and sunlight. This will also protect your eyes from bright reflections on water or snow.
  • Use lubricating eye drops to help soothe and moisten your eyes.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to help shield your eyes from the sun.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your eyes are more irritated or watery than usual.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have severe eye pain that does not go away.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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