Have you ever heard of surfer’s eye? Although common among surfers, the condition is typically found in men between the ages of 20 to 40, who work in outdoor settings in bright sunlight for long hours. Surfers are associated with the name because of their greater risk to get it with the sun’s UV rays reflecting off the water. Surfer’s eye is medically known as pterygium and is an elevated, wedge-shaped bump on the eye that begins in the white part of the eye (sclera) and can invade the cornea. This non-cancerous growth is usually pink in color and forms on the side of the eye closest to the nose and grows toward the pupil.
Many people with mild surfer’s eye will not experience symptoms or require treatment for pterygium. If the pterygia continue to grow it will often cause an itchy or burning sensation or the feeling that something gritty or foreign is on the eye. This inflammation will trigger red eyes. If the cornea is invaded, it can distort the shape on the front of the eye’s surface causing astigmatism or high-order aberrations that can affect vision. Temporary redness or irritation is usually treated with eye drops or over the counter or prescription ointments or steroid drops. Surgery is not usually required but would be recommended if vision is impaired and eyesight is at risk. Your eye care provider may recommend surgery if you cannot move your eye normally or if the appearance is bothersome to you. Rarely, if ever, does pterygium cause blindness. Unfortunately, a pterygium can and most likely will grow back if surgery is needed which is why it is not often recommended unless causing major symptoms or concerns.
Pterygium is best prevented by wearing UVA and UVB blocking sunglasses when out in sunlight. Wearing a hat with a brim will also help protect the eyes from UV light. Artificial tears will help dry eyes when out in a sunny or dry climate.
To schedule an eye exam with Eye Institute of South Jersey, P.C., call 856-205-1100 or book online at WEBSITE. Our staff encourages you to get the most out of your visit so feel free to come with your questions so we can find solutions to all your vision care needs.