A pterygium is a flat swelling composed of connective tissue on the conjunctiva that grows over the cornea, causing impaired vision. A pterygium is usually found on the nasal side of the eye. A pterygium is usually diagnosed if the mucose membrane covering the white of the eye grows in a triangular shape over the cornea.




The cause of a pterygium is not really known. Chronic exposure to UV radiation, and working in a dusty dry environment can cause chronic irritation of the eye, which can increase the risk of a pterygium occurring. Pterygium is more common in patients from areas around the Mediterranean or in people of African descent.



In most cases a pterygium causes little discomfort. It is only disturbing from an aesthetic point of view. Sometimes the pterygium can cause chronic irritation, making the eye red at the site of the pterygium. When the growth evolves towards the centre of the eye, the pterygium can deform the cornea and cause astigmatism. Further growth over the edge of the pupil will significantly affect sight.

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