What is a Pterygium?

Pterygium | Skokie, IL A pterygium (also called “surfer’s eye”) is a wing-shaped growth that often extends from the moist conjunctiva over the cornea of the eye. Pterygiums can cause dryness and irritation of the eye. In untreated cases, it can even move into the cornea of the eye, leading to blindness. Keep reading to learn how pterygiums can be treated effectively.

Usually, a pterygium is non-cancerous and develops very slowly. You may not want surgery unless this growth is causing discomfort. In patients who have a large or growing pterygium, a gritty, itchy, or burning sensation may be reported.

In more severe cases, a pterygium moves into the cornea. This can distort the shape of the surface of the eye, leading to astigmatism and other visions issues.


There are many factors that can cause pterygiums, but common factors include exposure to high sun and ultraviolet light. Patients who work outdoors or who are welders have a higher risk of developing pterygiums. Some studies have discovered evidence of viruses causing pterygiums.


To prevent pterygiums from developing or growing, you can do a few things. Try to limit your exposure to the sun, especially when the sun is especially bright. Wear sunglasses and a hat when you’re outside, to protect your eyes. Also, you can incorporate eye lubricants into your eye care regime.

When will I require surgery?

Pterygiums should be removed if they are growing, cause discomfort or inflammation in the patient. Additionally, if they become unsightly or threaten to cover the pupil or impair vision, a pterygium should probably be treated with surgery.


We remove pterygiums via surgery from the moist, peripheral conjunctiva and the cornea of the eye. Often, we will use a medicine to help prevent pterygiums from coming back. Then, a graft of amniotic membrane is used to cover the removed portion of the diseased conjunctival tissue.

Regular eye exams with Dr. Sondheimer help ensure the best outcome with the pterygium removal procedure. If you want to learn more about pterygiums and how we can help treat them, give us a call at (847) 677-2794 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sondheimer today.

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