Fun, outdoor activities are among the best parts of spring and summer. However, the bright sun can damage your eyes if you are not careful.
Sunlight carries UV radiation, and overexposing yourself to it can lead to problems beyond a sunburn. Spending too much time in the sun can hurt your eyes and possibly damage your vision.
Excess sun exposure can cause corneal damage and increase your risk for early cataract development. Another result of too much sun exposure is the development of a pterygium.
Keep reading to learn how you can protect yourself from pterygiums this year!
What Is A Pterygium?
A pterygium starts as a small, barely noticeable growth on the inside corner of your eye, closest to your nose. After some time, this growth can begin to expand across the cornea, covering part of the iris.
If the pterygium continues to grow, it can sometimes block the visual axis. If the growth blocks the visual axis, it can significantly interfere with your vision.
The growth is often pink in color and can show up in one eye at a time or in both eyes simultaneously. The pterygium tissue forms on the conjunctiva, the translucent skin that covers your eye.
Are Pterygiums Dangerous?
Pterygiums can look threatening, and although they can affect your vision, they are not inherently dangerous to your eye. The growth is noncancerous, although it can be cosmetically bothersome to some people.
Pterygiums often also cause several symptoms to present, including:
- Feeling like something is in your eye
Aside from the appearance and the sometimes irritating symptoms, a pterygium can lead to vision loss if it manages to grow over the pupil. If the growth covers the pupil, it can block light from entering the eye.
A pterygium can cause you to see double or blur your vision as it distorts the shape and integrity of the cornea.
Removing a Pterygium
Pterygiums that do not produce symptoms do not need removal unless for a cosmetic benefit or to prevent further growth. Symptoms are often mild and can be treated with eye drops or prescription ointments.
Pterygium removal surgery is a viable option if the growth affects your vision, produces significant discomfort, or creates an undesired look.
During the removal procedure, your eye surgeon will remove the grown from your eye and use a graft to help the healing process. The graft tissue will also help prevent the pterygium from growing back.
Alternatively, your eye surgeon may use medication to treat the area instead of grafting. The removal surgery only takes about forty-five minutes to complete.
You will likely need to wear a patch over your eye for a couple of days after the procedure. You should be able to return to work after a few days.
Full recovery from a pterygium removal procedure can take several weeks to a month. As you recover, you will need to use steroid eye drops for several weeks or months.
These drops help reduce inflammation and further prevent new growth. If new growth does appear, it will likely occur within a year.
The best way to prevent a pterygium from forming is to protect your eyes. Ensure that you wear sunglasses outdoors that are UVA and UVB protected.
Do you want to learn more about how you can protect your eyes from pterygium? Schedule an appointment at Westlake Eye Specialists in Austin, TX, today!