What is Pterygium and Can You Prevent It?
If someone asked you what pterygium is, would you be able to tell them what it was or would you call your doctor the next day to make sure that you could not catch it? Well there is no need to panic. Pterygium is not the new “super bug,” but it can become serious enough to require surgery if left untreated. Keep reading to find out about this potentially harmful condition and how to prevent it.
So . . . what is pterygium? Pterygium is a fleshy growth that forms over the cornea; generally in a triangular shape. While pterygium is not a deadly disease it can be very inconvenient and in some cases interfere with your vision. The condition is not something you need to worry about passing on to another individual – it’s not “catchy.” And though there are options to treat this condition, but it is important to know how to prevent it from forming it in the first place.
Determining What Causes Pterygium
The exact cause of this condition is not known but scientists and doctors alike agree that long-term over-exposure to sunlight, especially ultraviolet rays, and chronic irritation of the eye from dry and dusty conditions seem to contribute to the condition. Pterygium is seen more often in individuals who spend a great deal of time outdoors, and live in dry and sunny areas of the country. It is thought that chronic dry eye contributes to this condition as well.
Treatment Options for Pterygium
Once you are diagnosed with this condition you have a few treatment options, depending on the size of the growth. If you have a small growth that has become red and irritated there are eye drops and ointments available that will smooth the inflammation that causes the irritation and redness. If you have a larger growth that has become unsightly or has started to impair your sight, surgery is an available option. There is a possibility that pterygium will return after surgery, particularly in younger individuals. To prevent this, your doctor may recommend that you participate in surface radiation treatments or that you take medications post-surgery.
While the treatment for this condition can range from mild to invasive, pterygium is also easily preventable. Wearing UV protected sunglasses and using eye drops when you feel that your eyes are getting dry, especially if you live in a dry or dusty climate, will greatly reduce your chances of developing this condition. This is especially important if you live in an area of the country that has a lot of sand or a dry, arid climate such as the Southwest or certain coastal areas.
Pterygium is not life threatening, but it is still important that you get your eyes checked routinely by a qualified optometrist to either catch this condition or to get recommendations on preventative measures.