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With review and feedback from CEENTA Ophthalmologist Lisa Collea, MD (SouthPark)

Have you looked in the mirror and seen a pinkish growth in the corner of your eye? You may have been alarmed by this unexpected growth. What is it? Can it harm you? What you saw is called a pterygium, and we’re going to answer all your questions about it today.

What is a pterygium?

A pterygium is a fleshy growth of the white part of the eye (conjunctivae) that contains blood vessels and usually grows on the part of your eye closest to your nose. However, they can be found on the other side of your eye, too.

What are the symptoms of a pterygium?

Symptoms include redness and swelling of the white part of your eye, burning, tearing, and/or blurry vision.

Can a pterygium affect my vision?

Sometimes small pterygia can cause astigmatism, which can change your vision. Larger pterygia can grow to cover over your pupil, which can block your vision.

What causes a pterygium?

Pterygia are caused by exposure to a combination of ultraviolet light, wind, and dust.

How can I prevent a pterygium from developing?

If you are outside, always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays. Wrap-around ones are best, as they protect the side of your eyes from exposure. Goggles can also protect your eyes from sun, wind and dust, which is recommended if you are skiing or participating in another winter activity. Daily use of artificial tears can keep your eyes moist and flush out any irritants.

Lisa Collea, MD

How are pterygia treated?

In some cases, your doctor may prescribe artificial tears or temporary steroid drops. In others, surgical removal may be recommended. Surgery requires removing the pterygium and covering the area with normal conjunctival tissue, CEENTA Ophthalmologist Lisa Collea, MD, said. Surgery can be done without the use of sutures. The recovery period is typically 1-2 weeks, and you will likely be on postoperative eyedrops for 2-3 months. Although pterygia can recur after even after surgical removal, practicing the avoidance techniques can help prevent them from returning.

Pterygium care at CEENTA

If you have a pterygium, get the care you need at CEENTA. Our eye doctors will help ensure these growths don’t impede your vision or cause any discomfort.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. You can now schedule an appointment online with Dr. Collea or any of our nearly 50 eye doctors in North and South Carolina. You can also schedule through myCEENTAchart or by calling 704-295-3000.


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