Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What is a Pterygium?
It is an unusual bump on the eyeball that begins on the sclera (white part of the eye) and then eventually moves to the cornea. In layman’s term, pterygium is called surfer’s eye. It does not mean that this condition affects the surfers.
What it means is that pterygium is triggered by prolonged exposure to bright sunlight, especially if you are on the water. Pterygium is not cancerous though but still, it should not be taken for granted as it can lead to eye deformity and blurring of vision. (1, 2, 3)
Pterygium Vs Pinguecula (Difference)
Pterygium and pinguecula may sound totally different but they have one thing in common; they both pertain to eye conditions. The former is a surfer’s eye while the latter is a yellowish patch/bump on the eyeball. It is like having a callus on the skin.
A pinguecula can eventually developed into a pterygium, which will eventually block your vision. Pterygium can be removed surgically but there is always a possibility of recurrence. Pterygium icd 10 is the code used to note a condition that has something to do with the conjunctiva.
Image 1: A patient with a severe form of pterygium.
Picture Source: visioneyeinstitute.com.au
Picture 2: An extreme case of pterygium, which covers the patient’s cornea.
Photo Source: pterygium.info
Signs and Symptoms
- Pinkish, fleshy growth on the conjunctiva
- The growth is gradual an can show up in one of both eyes
- Extreme growth can cover your pupil and could lead to visual problems
- You will feel an itchy, gritty, and burning sensation in the eye
- Reddish discoloration of the eye (2, 3, 4)
Pterygium is caused by a few factors such as:
- Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays such as the sunlight
- Excessive drying of the eyes
- Exposure to eye irritants such as the wind and dust (3, 4, 5)
Pterygium usually affects people in their 30 to 50 years of age. It rarely affects children. Those who have light skin and light eyes are susceptible too. (5)
Photo 3: A surgical procedure to remove pterygium.
Image Source: i.ytimg.com
Image 4: A patient post pterygium surgery.
Picture Source: cdn2.theinertia.com
If you notice the above symptoms and you feel like something is blocking your vision, then you need to see your eye doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Ideally, the doctor will use a slit lamp to check the frontal section of your eye.
For mild cases of pterygium, treatment might not be needed at all. If the doctor notices redness and irritation, he will prescribe the following:
- Wetting drops/eye ointment/pterygium eye drops (for dry eyes)
- Pterygium eye drops (for redness and irritation)
- Steroids (5, 6, 7)
Pterygium Eye Surgery
The need for surgery depends on the discretion of the doctor with consideration to your signs and symptoms. If the growth is too big and to the point that it interfered with your vision, then that’s the signs that the growth should be removed surgically.
Pterygium surgery is done on an outpatient basis. However, there are a few risks such as the possibility of having the abnormal growth again, a formation of scars, a portion of the cornea can be cut causing uneven cornea which could cause blurring of vision.
Ideally, the doctor will try other forms of treatments (the non-invasive type). However, if such treatments failed, then the doctor could resort to surgery. As with the surgery, it usually lasts for about 30 to 45 minutes. After the surgery, you will be required to wear an eye patch for a few days.
You will also be put on some medications for a few weeks or months depending on the severity of pterygium. The drug of choice post-surgery is steroid eye drop to ease inflammation and lowers the possibility of regrowth. (4, 7, 8)
How to treat Pterygium Naturally?
Pterygium is not really a matter of life and death situation. In fact, some people don’t mind having it as long as it does not interfere with their vision. If you have pterygium and you are thinking of ways to get rid of it without going through the knife, then these natural remedies will surely help you.
Some of the natural remedies used to treat pterygium are as follows:
Apple cider vinegar
It works in reducing the redness, itching, and inflammation of the eyes. Do not apply pure apple cider vinegar as it might cause a burning sensation.
You have to dilute it first with a distilled water. Aside from applying it to the pterygium site, you can also take apple cider vinegar to help alkalize the body. By doing so, it will not only get rid of pterygium, it also addresses other health issues.
It soothes dry eyes and it can reduce the possibility of abnormal tissue growth.
It has long been used to treat a variety of diseases including eye-related problems. Apply honey on the pterygium site before going to bed.
Activated charcoal powder
You should dilute activated charcoal powder in water and apply the solution in the pterygium site. (8, 9, 10)
What can you do to prevent Pterygium?
- Wear protective eyeglasses – You only got a pair of eyes. It is just right to do your best to take good care of your eyes. If you are the type of person who is not fond of wearing glasses, then now is the best time to do, especially if you are constantly exposed to sunlight. Choose eyeglasses that can block ultraviolet radiation.
- Have your car tinted – Just because you are in your car does not mean that you are protected from the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat – During summertime, a hat can be your best friend. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, especially if the sun is up and shining brightly. The brim serves as a barrier between your eyes and the sun. If you are not fond of wearing a hat, then at least use an umbrella when going outside.
Your eyes are precious organs. Without them, it would be impossible for you to see the beauty of the world. Hence, it is important to protect your eyes in order to avoid eye-related issues such as pterygium.
A surfer’s eye may sound like a minor issue but if left untreated could eventually grow bigger and can hinder your vision. You surely don’t want it to happen. Do all the precautionary measures and if you feel like something is not right with your eyes, then you need to see your doctor. (1, 5, 9, 10)