Pterygium (external cataract)

Pterygium (external cataract) is a raised triangular tissue growth on the conjunctiva of the eye that grows over the cornea. The size of it can vary from a small atrophic formation to a vast and quickly growing lesion that can cover the optical center of the cornea. It occurs two times more commonly among males than females. Usually it is more common after the age of 40.

Pterygium is usually associated with a genetic disposition or long term exposure to UV light in people who work outdoors or patients living in the tropical and subtropical regions.

Symptoms can range. One can experience no symptoms at all. Some people notice redness, swelling, tearing, itching, irritation, blurred vision. Patients often complain of burning and sensation of a foreign object in their eye/s. During the growth period, the pterygium is swollen and reddish. Usually they grow slowly and often patients stabilize and don’t feel any discomfort at all. When a pterygium has grown over the cornea, it causes astigmatism and sometimes it can partially cover the pupil.

Pterygium can be diagnosed based on a practical test, including performing an excision under a local anesthesia. After surgery the eye must be treated with local antibiotics and anti-inflammatory creams.

As it is associated with excessive sun exposure, patients with pterygium must wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun, the dust and the wind. “Artificial tears” drops also help against the irritation. Usually ophthalmologists prescribe steroid drops that reduce the inflammation.

If you notice any of the mentioned symptoms, it is advisable to consult an ophthalmologist.