Surfer’s Eye? In Illinois??

Surfer’s Eye? In Illinois?? | Stuart P. Sondheimer, MD | Skokie, IL For a condition to be dubbed “surfer’s eye,” you would think that it may only affect those who hit the waves on a very regular basis. Surfers aren’t the kind of people who flock to the beautiful state of Illinois, and yet the condition known as surfer’s eye is common. The scientific term for surfer’s eye is pterygium. It is a condition that has risk factors that extend far beyond the water. Here, we want to dive into the details of pterygium, so you know how to recognize it and, more importantly, know when to obtain professional care.

What is pterygium and how can you spot it?

Pterygium is a growth that may span across the over the cornea. It originates in the soft lining of the eye, the conjunctiva. This fleshy growth is benign, but can cause a few frustrating symptoms, or even vision loss, should the web of tissue extend over the pupil of the eye.

This condition is often referred to as surfer’s eye simply because those who spend a great deal of time in the water happen to be extremely prone to the growth. It isn’t the water that does it; it’s the reflection of sunlight off of water that creates an increased risk. According to studies, these growths seem to have a direct correlation to UV exposure. Therefore, any person who spends a lot of time outdoors, especially in dry or dusty environments, could develop pterygium at some point. Even chronic dry eyes increase risk.

The fleshy growth on the eye may be clear, but may also have a gray, pink, red, or yellow tinge to it. Color does not indicate infection or cancer; it is just a nuance of the condition. There is no average size for pterygium growths, either. In fact, some people develop more than one. The sight of growth in the eye is a good indicator of pterygium. Symptoms such as redness and irritation, such as a foreign body sensation, and also blurry vision may also occur.

Managing Vision and Appearance

Pterygium may cause cosmetic concerns as well as physical discomfort. In such instances, removal may be discussed. If the growth is small and discreet, management may involve the use of eye drops, sun protection, and routine monitoring of progression.

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Do you have questions about pterygium? We’re happy to schedule an appointment for you. Call (847) 772-2794 to schedule a consultation.

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