Protecting yourself from developing a pterygium is probably not something you spend a lot of time thinking about.
In fact, if you are like most people, you may have read the title of this blog and wondered, “what the heck is a pterygium?” If you have trouble with this word (hint: turr-idge-ee-um!) then you can try remembering it by its nickname: surfer’s eye.
A pterygium is a condition that affects individuals who are exposed to sunlight for long periods of time. Surfers are at higher risk for developing this condition because they spend long periods of time in the sunlight. They are also at higher risk due to the reflection of the sunlight on the surface of the water. A pterygium can affect people of all ages who have excessive exposure to UV rays.
A pterygium is a non-cancerous growth on the white part of the eye. It typically grows on the inner cornea of the eye, closer to the nose. It can obstruct your vision and cause it to become blurry. The most common symptoms of a pterygium are blurry vision and a burning or itching sensation in your eyes.
People who live in sunny climates or close to the equator have a higher risk of developing a pterygium. It is also more common among individuals between the ages of 20-40 and affects men more commonly than women.
As with many medical conditions, the best treatment for a pterygium is prevention (we know, we know… but keep reading!)
Because a pterygium is caused by prolonged exposure to UV rays, the best way to protect yourself is by protecting your eyes from potential sun damage. Regardless of the season, whenever you are spending time outdoors you should always wear UV protectant sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. UV protectant goggles are important as well since the sunlight can bounce off the surface of the water.
If you do develop a pterygium, depending on how severe your condition is, your eye doctor will help determine which treatment method is best for you. Surgery is an option but this is usually saved as a last resort.
Summer is quickly approaching and we already know you are looking forward to long days spent at the pool! We are guessing that you wouldn’t dream of spending an afternoon in the sun without taking measures to protect your skin, right? Well, you should take the same care to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays as well.
Preventative care is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from a pterygium and other common eye conditions and diseases. Contact us today to schedule your comprehensive vision exam with one of our highly specialized doctors at VisionFirst Eye Center!