The Eyes Have It

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What is it?
A pterygium (Greek word for "winged growth") is a fibrovascular proliferation of the nasal (or, more rarely, temporal) bulbar conjunctiva that grows toward the cornea and eventually over its surface. It results from heavy exposure to sunlight and wind.

How does it present?
With a mound-like hyperemic area on the nasal (rarely temporal) conjunctiva with its leading edge pointed toward the cornea. There may be some discomfort, but no pain. If the growth extends over the cornea, vision may be impaired. Growth is very slow, measured at 1-2 mm/six months.

What to do?
No medical treatment works. No treatment is necessary if the growth is long-standing, unchanging, and not causing any symptoms. Otherwise refer non-urgently. If the pterygium is growing onto the cornea, it may have to be surgically excised.

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The Eyes Have It
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Originally created by Jonathan Trobe, M.D., University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center
© 2009 The Regents of the University of Michigan

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