Pterygium is a visible growth that starts on the conjunctiva membrane that covers the white part of the eye over the cornea. This benign and non-cancerous wedge-like growth is due primarily to UV damage.  It is a very common eye condition with more than 3 million cases in the US per year.


Patients with a pterygium will not always have symptoms. When they do, the symptoms are usually mild. The more common symptoms are redness, blurred vision, and eye irritation. Patients might also feel a burning sensation or itchiness. In more severe cases, a pterygium can grow large and cover the cornea. That can lead to a partial loss of vision. Bigger pterygium can also make patients feel they have a foreign object in their eyes. It can cause discomfort when wearing contact lenses.


This eye condition can usually be diagnosed by its distinctive appearance. However, in the early stages, it may be confused with similar conditions such as pinguecula, which is another form of non-cancerous eye growth that affects the conjunctiva. Contacting an ophthalmologist is the best way to be sure to get an accurate diagnosis.


A pterygium usually doesn’t require any treatment unless it’s causing discomfort or impairing vision. Your eye doctor might want to check your eyes occasionally to see if the growth is causing vision problems.

If you have a lot of irritation or redness due to the pterygium, your eye doctor can prescribe eye drops or eye ointments that contain corticosteroids to stop the inflammation.

If medications do not provide relief. Your ophthalmologist may suggest surgery to remove the pterygium. Other surgeries can be done if the pterygium is causing vision loss and astigmatism. Cosmetic surgery for pterygium is also an option.


To reduce the risk of getting a pterygium, people can wear UV sunglasses and avoid exposure to environmental irritants such as dust and chemical pollutants.