Pterygium is a fleshy membrane that grows on the surface of the eye and over the cornea. Also known as “surfer’s eye,” pterygium may start as a pinguecula. Pinguecula is a thick, yellow growth of fat, calcium or protein deposits that forms on the conjunctiva. Pterygium is characterised by redness, irritation and inflammation.


Pterygia vary in size, and the levels of irritation depend on the condition's progression. If left too long, pterygia may result in permanent corneal warpage and scarring.

What are the symptoms of pterygium membranes?

Pterygium grows at the edge of the eye. The membrane can form in both eyes and impair vision. 

Other symptoms include:

  • Burning sensation in the eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Red eyes
What are the causes of pterygium membranes?

Overexposure to UV light and age are the primary reasons for the formation of pterygium membranes. People between the ages of thirty and fifty are most susceptible to pterygium. Having fair skin and light eyes also increases the risk of pterygium. Dust and strong winds contribute to the development of pterygium. Dry eye disease is one of the leading causes of the condition as well.

How do you diagnose pterygia?

Through a special microscope, Dr McClunan can see the eye under high magnification and check for the growth of pterygium tissue. Using corneal topography (Corneal thickness and steepness assessment), Dr McClunan can assess the impact of the pterygium on the cornea.

How do you treat pterygia?

Treatment depends on the severity of pterygium. Protection against harsh UV light and ensuring good ocular lubrication can prevent the condition. Dr McClunan may prescribe ointments or drops to treat mild pterygium and prevent progression.

Surgery is the only way to obliterate pterygium completely. Pterygia need to be removed as soon as it infiltrates the cornea to more than a certain degree. Although its removal is often due to cosmetic reasons, the fleshy growth can warp or scar the cornea and cause vision loss. 


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