Condition 101 About Pterygium

What is the definition of Pterygium?

A pterygium is a noncancerous growth that starts in the clear, thin tissue (conjunctiva) of the eye. This growth covers the white part of the eye (sclera) and extends onto the cornea. It is often slightly raised and contains visible blood vessels. The problem may occur on one or both eyes.

What are the causes for Pterygium?

The exact cause is unknown. It is more common in people who have a lot of exposure to sunlight and wind, such as people who work outdoors.

Risk factors are exposure to sunny, dusty, sandy, or windblown areas. Farmers, fishermen, and people living near the equator are often affected. Pterygium is rare in children.

What are the symptoms for Pterygium?

The main symptom of a pterygium is a painless area of raised white tissue that has blood vessels on the inner or outer edge of the cornea. Sometimes the pterygium has no symptoms. However, it may become inflamed and cause burning, irritation, or a feeling like there's something foreign in the eye. Vision may be affected if the growth extends far enough onto the cornea.

What are the current treatments for Pterygium?

In most cases, treatment involves only wearing sunglasses and using artificial tears. Using artificial tears to keep the eyes moist may help prevent a pterygium from becoming inflamed and getting bigger. Mild steroid eye drops can be used to calm inflammation if it occurs. Surgery can be used to remove the growth for cosmetic reasons or if it blocks vision.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Pterygium?

Most pterygia cause no problems and do not need surgical treatment. If a pterygium affects the cornea, removing it can have good results.

What are the possible complications for Pterygium?

Ongoing inflammation can cause a pterygium to grow farther onto the cornea. A pterygium can return after it is removed.

When should I contact a medical professional for Pterygium?

People with pterygium should be seen by an ophthalmologist each year. This will enable the condition to be treated before it affects vision.

Call your ophthalmologist if you have had a pterygium in the past and your symptoms return.

How do I prevent Pterygium?

Taking steps to protect the eyes from ultraviolet light may help prevent this condition. This includes wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim.



Folberg R. The eye. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC, eds. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 29.

Shtein RM, Sugar A. Pterygium and conjunctival degenerations.In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 4.9.

Tan DTH, Chong EW. Management of Pterygium. In: Mannis MJ, Holland EJ, eds. Cornea. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 141.

Top Global Doctors For Pterygium

Latest Advances On Pterygium

  • Condition: Pterygium
  • Journal: [Zhonghua yan ke za zhi] Chinese journal of ophthalmology
  • Treatment Used: Modified Conjunctival Transplantation and Amniotic Membrane Transplantation Combined with Interferon Eye Drops
  • Number of Patients: 70
  • Published —
In this study, researchers evaluated the outcomes of undergoing modified conjunctival transplantation and amniotic membrane transplantation combined with interferon eye drops for the treatment of pterygium.
  • Condition: Recurrent Pterygium
  • Journal: Vestnik oftalmologii
  • Treatment Used: Lamellar Keratoplasty
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
This study assessed the use of lamellar keratoplasty in a patient with recurrent pterygium.

Clinical Trials For Pterygium

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Phase: Phase 4
  • Intervention Type: Drug
  • Participants: 190
  • Start Date: May 1, 2021
Outpatient Performed Pterygium Surgery Study
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Phase: N/A
  • Intervention Type: Drug
  • Participants: 66
  • Start Date: February 2021
The Effect of Brimonidine Tartrate on Subconjunctival Hemorrhage During Pterygium Surgery