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What is a Pterygium?

Pterygium | Fargo, ND

A pterygium (which can also be referred to as “surfer’s eye”) is a wedge-shaped growth that most often extends from the moist conjunctiva over to the cornea of the eye. Pterygiums can cause dryness and irritation of the eye, among other issues. In untreated cases, a pterygium can move into the cornea of the eye, and even lead to blindness. Keep reading to learn how pterygiums can be prevented and treated effectively.

Usually, a pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that develops over a long time. Surgery may be your best option if your pterygium is advanced. Or, you may not want to get surgery unless the growth is extremely unsightly or causing you physical discomfort. In patients who have a large or growing pterygium, a gritty, itchy, or burning sensation can sometimes be involved. Additionally, the white of the eye can become red or inflamed. 

In severe cases, a pterygium moves into the cornea, distorting the shape of the surface of the eye. This can lead to astigmatism and other issues with vision. 


There are many factors that can lead to pterygiums, but common factors include repeated exposure to sun and even ultraviolet light. For example, patients who work outdoors, spend a lot of time outdoors, or who are welders have a higher risk of developing pterygiums in their lifetimes. Alternatively, some studies have discovered evidence of viruses causing pterygiums, and genetics may play a part in their development. 


To prevent pterygiums from developing or growing, you can adjust your lifestyle just a little. Try to limit your exposure to the sun, especially when it is especially bright. If that’s not possible, then just wear sunglasses and a hat when you’re outside. The more consistently you make these choices, the better. Also, you can incorporate eye lubricants into your eye care. 

Will I require surgery?

Pterygiums may need to be removed if they are growing, cause discomfort or inflammation in your eyes. If it threatens to impair your vision, a pterygium should probably be surgically removed.

Regular eye exams with your eye doctor help ensure the best outcome with the pterygiums. If you want to learn more about pterygiums, give us a call at (701) 235-5200 to schedule a consultation with us today.

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