If you notice a lump on your eye, you may have pterygium and should make an appointment with Mitchell C. Latter, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist practicing in South Pasadena, California. While pterygium, also referred to as surfer’s eye, isn’t cancerous, the growth can still disrupt your vision. Dr. Latter diagnoses pterygium and offers a variety of treatments ranging from medication to surgery, depending on the severity of your condition. Call his office or schedule an appointment online today.

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What is pterygium?

Pterygium is a condition where a fleshy growth develops on your conjunctiva, the clear, lubricating substance that covers the inside of your eyelid and your eyeball.

Pterygia are flesh-colored, elevated, and wedge-shaped. They’re benign but can cause permanent disfigurement to your eye. They don’t usually lead to blindness but can lead to blurred vision and irritation if left untreated.

What causes pterygium?

While the colloquial term for pterygium is surfer’s eye, you don’t have to live near the ocean or water for the growths to develop. If you spend a lot of time in the sun, the UV rays can trigger the growths. Pterygium is also sometimes a complication of untreated dry eye.

Pterygium is more common in patients ages 30-50 years with fair skin, hair, and eyes.

How is pterygium treated?

Dr. Latter diagnoses pterygium following an exam of your eye that includes a slit lamp exam. If your pterygium is small and doesn’t affect your vision, Dr. Latter may suggest waiting and observing your growth with regular eye exams.

However, if your pterygium continues to grow and puts your vision at risk, Dr. Latter may suggest other treatments. For example, he may prescribe medicated eye drops such as steroid drops to reduce inflammation. Dr. Latter may also recommend contact lenses to cover the growth and protect it from irritating environmental factors like dust and dry air.

Dr. Latter performs surgery with amniotic membrane grafts to remove larger growths that disrupt your vision. Pterygium removal surgery is an outpatient procedure that usually takes 30-45 minutes. You may need to wear an eye patch for a couple of days but should be able to get back to your normal activities the day after the surgery.

Can I prevent pterygium?

You can reduce your risk of a pterygium by always wearing UV-blocking sunglasses when you go outside. If you wear eyeglasses, talk to Dr. Latter about having a UV-blocking coating put on your lenses. It also helps to wear a wide-brimmed hat. You can keep your eyes moist and healthy by using artificial tears and practicing excellent hygiene when handling your contact lenses.

If you’re concerned about pterygium or other growths on your eyes or eyelids, call Dr. Latter’s office or schedule an appointment online today.