A pterygium is a growth that forms on the conjunctiva. Abnormal conjunctival tissue extends over the sclera and cornea, the transparent outer surface of the eye, which functions as a windscreen. Pterygia, also known as "surfer's eye", can interfere with one's vision and lead to corneal scarring. This benign or noncancerous growth is frequently wedge-shaped. Although a pterygium rarely causes problems or requires treatment, it can be removed if it impairs your vision, becomes unsightly or feels uncomfortable.


An overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the primary reason for pterygium development.


Symptoms include a foreign body sensation and grittiness. When symptoms do occur, it's usually mild. If a pterygium starts to grow over your cornea, it can interfere with your vision. Elevated pterygia can also cause you to feel like you have a foreign object in your eye. It may become difficult to wear contact lenses.

Signs of pterygia include:

  • Red eyes
  • Hazy vision
  • Grittiness


A diagnosis is made by an Ophthalmologist with the use of a slit lamp. Slit lamps allow high- grade magnification and lighting to examine your eye.
Treatment of pterygia can be conservative or surgical. Dr Miller advises UV protection, lubrication, and corticosteroid eye drops to relieve inflammation of itchy, red eyes. Other, more invasive treatments are considered when eye drops, and ointments are not sufficient. Surgery involves the removal of the excess tissue from the sclera and cornea. A conjunctival autograft minimises the risk of recurrence. Tissue adhesive, which is rich in clotting proteins, allows the surgeon to secure a conjunctival autograft.


Is pterygium painful?
Pterygium may present in several painless ways, but irritation and discomfort may occur.
Can pterygium cause blindness?
Pterygia are not usually a cause of blindness, but if the condition progresses, it can lead to poor vision.
How long does it take for a pterygium to go away?
Dr Miller will perform surgery to remove a pterygium, and full recovery should take a few months.