Pterygium, nicknamed Surfer’s Eye, is a painless growth that typically develops on the inner corner of the eye near the nose. The primary risk factor for this flesh-colored tissue is excessive sun exposure, something California is known for. The Mediterranean-like climate and sunny weather increase UV radiation exposure and elevate the risk of developing pterygium.

Our eye surgeons at Clarity Eye Group offer pterygium removal. The procedure surgically removes the growth using one of several techniques. While there is some risk the tissue will grow back, the auto-graft method combined with UV protection can lower the risk of recurrence.

What Is Pterygium?

Pterygium grows on the thin, clear membrane covering your eye and lining your eyelids, called your conjunctiva. These growths are benign tumors that are pink, fleshy, and typically triangularly shaped. Pterygia contain fine blood vessels but do not pose a medical concern unless they grow large enough to cover some of the cornea and affect vision. While pterygium doesn’t typically cause pain, the raised tissue can cause eye irritation, burning or itching sensations, and inflammation. Some pterygium patients are accused of using illicit drugs or being impaired because their eyes appear bloodshot.

Who Gets Pterygium?

People living near the equator or spending most of their time outdoors are more likely to develop pterygium. The condition is called surfer’s eye because surfers have a higher risk along with farmers and others who spend a lot of time in hot, sunny weather. Dusty or sandy environments increase the rates of pterygium, and men over 60 are more likely to have these eye growths. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to pterygium or have chronic eye irritation that increases their likelihood. Still, long-term UV radiation exposure is the most significant risk factor.

A combination of factors can cause pterygium, but the most likely patient groups are those who spend a lot of their time in the sun in dry, windy, or sandy environments. Californians enjoy countless sunny days every year, and we’re known for our dry climate and sandy beaches, making our location the perfect combination for pterygium.

Can I Lower My Risk of Developing Pterygium?

You can lower your risk of pterygium by protecting your eyes from UV radiation with protective sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to filter and limit exposure. Protecting your eyes from UV light also slows down or stops the progression of pterygium. Make sure you choose wrap-around sunglasses to shield your eyes entirely and keep debris in the air out of your eyes.

Learn more about pterygium and pterygium removal at Clarity Eye Group. Schedule your eye exam and consultation at our state-of-the-art facility in Huntington Beach, California, by calling (714) 842-0651.