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Pterygium is usually a pinkish, triangular-shaped growth of conjunctiva on the cornea of the eye. Pterygium can become reddened, irritated, or swollen, impairing vision. Dust or air pollutants are common irritants. Lubricating eye drops may help in this instance.

Some pterygium grow slowly throughout a person’s life, while others stop growing after a certain point. Pterygium rarely grow so large that they begin to cover the pupil of the eye, but when they do, it can distort your vision.

What causes pterygium?

Although the exact cause of pterygium is not known, it is more common in people who have spent a significant amount of time outdoors. It appears that ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and prolonged exposure to dry, dusty outdoor conditions contribute to the development of pterygium.

In areas where sunlight is strong with dry, dusty conditions, wearing protective eyeglasses, sunglasses, and hats with brims is recommended. Those who already have pterygium should know that it is treatable. You should also know that early detection of eye problems is important for your overall health and vision.

How is pterygium treated?

Because pterygium is visible to others, many people decide to have it removed for cosmetic reasons. Surgery can usually improve appearance and reduce irritation if present. Surgical removal of pterygium is usually performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia.

For more information about eye surgery or pterygium treatment, please call San Jose ophthalmologist Dr. Claudio S. Contreras at (408) 971-2020 or request an appointment online.