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Piecing together the Pterygium Puzzle

Do you ever, every now and then, look into your bathroom mirror and get “up close and personal” with your eyes? Surely it is not only eye-doctors who stare into their mirrors deeply, marveling at the masterpiece that is the human eye…

Perhaps it is only eye-doctors who are in such awe, but let’s pretend we are all equally fascinated by the complex precision of the human eye as an organ. On such occasions when you stare into the mirror with intrigue, what do you see? In the whites of your eyes, within your conjunctiva (the clear membrane that covers your eye) you may see a lot of tiny blood vessels, but mainly it will be white. However, if you have a Pterygium your whites may not be as clear. You will have a red or pink area which appears to go from the white part of your eye over the coloured part of the eye. Coupled with this, you may experience certain symptoms which include irritation and in sever cases, blurred vision.

So, if you find yourself in this position, listen up. Here are my most commonly asked questions on Pterygium:

How do I know if I have a Pterygium?

It can be hard to tell if you have a Pterygium because symptoms are sometimes mild and unnoticable, especially if the Pterygium is still small (less than 1mm). Other symptoms include eye-irritation, burning, redness, dryness, and possibly blurred vision. A less common symptom is restricted eye movement.

Children, for example, may not notice these symptoms quite as quickly as an adult might, so it is important to be aware of their eye health to detect any changes in their vision. This is why we encourage regular eye tests for children, as optometrists are more likely to be able to detect things like pterygium in your child’s eye if the symptoms are non-existent.

We recommend booking an appointment for your family at our associate Optometrists, Oxia Optical.

Contact Oxia Optical on:

+27 21 426 4842

What does a Pterygium look like once grown?

Let’s be frank: a Pterygium isn't particularly attractive. They are triangle or winged shaped growths on the corner of the eye; often appearing as an inflamed bright pink or red area on the eye. That said, they can also be white.

Why is Pterygium called “surfer’s eye?”

A Pterygium is a growth, but it is often called “surfer’s eye” because they often develop on the eyes of beachgoers and people who spend time in the ocean.

Should I stop surfing? Can you prevent Pterygium?

Prevention of pterygium includes using UV light protection sunglasses and artificial tears. The risk of developing a pterygium is significantly reduced by limiting your exposure to the sun with UV blocking sunglasses and hats when outside.

Let me remind you of a blog I wrote last year, which I called: “Are my Cheap Sunglasses Damaging my Eyes?”. I would recommend clicking on the link and giving that a read for more information on UV protection and the eyes. I hate to quote myself but in some instances it just makes sense:

“Let’s be frank: we don’t need to say more about the benefits of having UV protection in a world where the danger of the sun is well known.”

Does Pterygium get worse over time?

A pterygium is often progressive and may require surgical treatment. This is because Pterygiums often induce irregular astigmatism. If you think you may have a pterygium, contact your local eye doctor for a check-up.

How do you treat Pterygium?

Pterygium treatment is generally conservative to prevent progression but often requires surgery to remove it. It is a treatable condition, but if left for too long without treatment it can cause complications to your vision which could lead to long-term harm. Our website is equipped with informative videos where you can find out more about what happens on the day of Pterygium surgery as well as post-procedure.

Where can I learn more?

Contact my rooms on 021 426 4842 or to book a consultation with myself.


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