Small pterygium Large primary pterygium invading the pupil visual axis Symptoms of pterygium include persistent redness,  inflammation,  foreign body sensation, tearing, dry and itchy eyes. In advanced cases the pterygium can affect vision  as it invades the cornea with the potential of obscuring the optical center of the cornea and inducing astigmatism and corneal scarring. The use of standard contact lenses can become uncomfortable or even impossible although custom shaping may improve the fit to some extent. Cause[ edit ] The exact cause is unknown, but it is associated with excessive exposure to wind , sunlight , or sand.
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What are the symptoms? When it does, the symptoms are usually mild. Common symptoms include redness , blurred vision , and eye irritation. You might also feel a burning sensation or itchiness.
If a pterygium grows large enough to cover your cornea , it can interfere with your vision. Thick or larger pterygium can also cause you to feel like you have a foreign object in your eye.
You might not be able to continue wearing contact lenses when you have a pterygium due to discomfort. How serious is it? A pterygium can lead to severe scarring on your cornea, but this is rare. Scarring on the cornea needs to be treated because it can cause vision loss. For minor cases, treatment usually involves eye drops or ointment to treat inflammation. In the more serious cases, treatment can involve surgical removal of the pterygium. How is it diagnosed?
Diagnosing a pterygium is straightforward. Your eye doctor may diagnose this condition based on a physical examination using a slit lamp.
This lamp allows your doctor to see your eye with the help of magnification and bright lighting. If your doctor needs to do additional tests, they may include: Visual acuity test. This test involves reading letters on an eye chart. Corneal topography. This medical mapping technique is used to measure curvature changes in your cornea.
Photo documentation. This procedure involves taking pictures to track the growth rate of the pterygium. Your eye doctor might want to check your eyes occasionally to see if the growth is causing vision problems. Medications If the pterygium is causing a lot of irritation or redness, your doctor may prescribe eye drops or eye ointments that contain corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. Surgery is also done when a pterygium causes a loss of vision or a condition called astigmatism , which can result in blurry vision.
You can also discuss surgical procedures with your doctor if you want the pterygium removed for cosmetic reasons. There are a couple of risks associated with these operations. In some cases, a pterygium can return after being surgically removed. Your eye might also feel dry and irritated after surgery.
Your doctor can prescribe medications to provide relief and reduce the risk of having a pterygium grow back. How can I prevent getting a pterygium? If possible, avoid exposure to environmental factors that can cause a pterygium. You can help prevent the development of a pterygium by wearing sunglasses or a hat to shield your eyes from sunlight, wind, and dust. If you already have a pterygium, limiting your exposure to the following can slow its growth: wind.
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