A small growth in the eye could be a pterygium - a doctor advises if it is serious

A small growth in the eye could be a pterygium – a doctor advises if it is serious

Look in the mirror in the morning and notice a growth in your eyeball? If you’re concerned about whether or not this may be cancerous or what’s causing it, Dr. Mary Leonard comes in handy. In her response to Daily Express readers’ questions about their health problems, she discussed what it could be and how it could be prevented.

Dr. Leonard said that a pterygium is “a thickening of the conjunctiva, the outer membrane of the eye. It is usually painless, although it can sometimes cause some irritation and dryness.”

She added, “It tends to occur as a reaction to the eye’s exposure to wind, dust, and especially ultraviolet rays, so it is more common in people who have lived in hot climates or who are outdoors a lot, especially practicing water sports, where the water reflects sunlight.”

Does it require treatment?

It all depends on the size of the pterygium, Dr. Leonard said.

“When the pterygium is small, often no treatment is needed, but if it causes a lot of irritation, or conditions that grow over the central part of the eye and affect vision, they can be surgically removed,” she said.

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What does the surgery involve?

The surgery involves “cutting out the abnormal tissue and filling the defect with a tissue graft from the upper eyelid, which is usually done under a local anesthetic,” Dr. Leonard said.

“You will need a referral from a GP to your local hospital eye clinic, and the most effective way to get that is probably by emailing a picture of the affected eye. Your GP should not be required to see you.”

How can it be prevented?

In this regard, Dr. Leonard recommended: “The best way to prevent a pterygium from developing or getting bigger is to always protect your eyes with UV400 rated sunglasses when you are outdoors in sunny conditions.

“Those with a wraparound design offer better protection than those with large gaps between the gram and the skin around the eyes. Wearing a hat with a wide brim can provide additional protection.”

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Can a pterygium be precancerous?

A pterygium is a noncancerous growth that develops on the white part of your eye, Specsavers says. [It] It is not cancerous but regular eye exams can help monitor it over time.

“It tends to occur with age and occurs more frequently in those who spend most of their time outdoors.

“It’s sometimes known as ‘surfer’s eye,’ but pterygium doesn’t just affect those who hit the waves on a regular basis.”

Can it cause blindness?

Again, Specsavers emphasizes this: “No, but if the growth creeps through your eye toward and over your pupil, it can distort your vision.”

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While pterygium isn’t cancerous, it doesn’t always require surgery, street opticians said.

Sometimes it can be treated with non-surgical means: “The vast majority of cases in the UK do not require surgery to remove a pterygium and can be managed with eye drops to keep the eye moist and reduce inflammation.”

Dr. Leonard said it is essential to reduce the risk of developing a pterygium by protecting the eyes from excess UV rays.

Furthermore, she added, “If you have a pterygium, you can slow it down by limiting your exposure to UV rays, dust, pollution and other irritants – the same advice applies to those who have had a pterygium removed and haven’t. I want it to grow back.”

While pterygium is a possibility, Specsavers says an eye specialist will try to rule out other eye conditions such as red eye, dry eye, and pinguecula.

Pinguecula is “a common age-related condition that looks like a white or yellow bump on the white of the eye (sclera) caused by a thickening of the conjunctiva (the thin protective layer), usually found near the edge of the cornea.”

Specsavers added: “Most people with pinguecula will not have any symptoms. But it’s possible that the bumps and bumps that the tongue layer creates on the surface of the eye can interfere with how the tear film spreads across the eye, potentially leading to dry eyes.”

Other symptoms of pinguecula include eye redness and irritation.

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