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While nearly everyone experiences dry or red eyes occasionally, it’s a problem if it keeps recurring. Don’t hesitate to contact a New York City ophthalmologist who specializes in dry eyes. Even simple symptoms like itchiness and eye irritation may indicate a more serious condition like pterygium, also known as surfer’s eye. Untreated, this can lead to further complications that may require complicated treatments. The experienced doctors at Vitreous Retina Macula Consultants of New York (VRMNY) — with offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Westchester — provide the best eye care in the metropolitan region. Call as soon as possible to get your eyes checked out.

What Is a Pterygium?

A pterygium (pronounced TRY-jee-um) is a non-cancerous growth on the conjunctiva that lines the inside of your eyelid to protect it from harmful microbes. The conjunctiva also lubricates your eyes by producing tears and mucus. A pterygium is a triangular-shaped tissue growth that extends to your cornea. In most cases, it appears raised with visible blood vessels. The growth, also known as surfer’s eye, can occur on either side of your eye.


A pterygium mostly grows from the inner corner of the eye near your nose. It usually remains small, but sometimes it grows to cover your pupil, restricting your vision. If untreated, a pterygium may grow across your cornea, causing vision problems that may require pterygium surgery to correct. When the growth causes eye discomfort, it requires immediate attention by an eye doctor specializing in the treatment.

Experienced ophthalmologists detect the growth during a scheduled eye checkup. If you feel discomfort in your eye or notice a visible growth, consult the eye specialists at Vitreous Retina Macula Consultants of New York (VRMNY) ophthalmology center, with offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Westchester. The state-of-the-art facilities have modern equipment for a wide range of services, including:

  • Diagnostic imaging
  • In-office procedures
  • Pterygium eye surgery
  • Laser surgeries
  • Other eye surgical procedures

What Are the Symptoms of Pterygium?

A pterygium may not show any symptoms in the early stages of growth. If you don’t have regular eye checkups, your eye doctor won’t catch this corneal disease early enough. Some indicators of surfer’s eye include:

  • Eye redness and inflammation
  • Blurred vision caused by a corneal distortion
  • Severe vision problems, as the growth encroaches across your pupil
  • Eye irritation
  • A burning sensation, a gritty feeling or itchiness
  • Thickening in the corner of your eye
  • Feeling like there’s a foreign object in your eye
  • Dry eye caused by reduced tear production
  • Difficulties wearing contact lenses

If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your NYC eye specialist for an early diagnosis. For eye problems, an early diagnosis is critical for successful treatment. The eye doctors at VRMNY have the expertise to diagnose the problem and then perform the most advanced and complex eye surgeries, including:

Symptoms of Pterygium


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What Causes Surfer’s Eye?

The exact cause of pterygium is unknown, but doctors have identified conditions associated with the development of a surfer’s eye. Some conditions that increase the risk of the eye problem include:

  • Long-term exposure to UV light. People who live near the equator are at a higher risk of developing a surfer’s eye. The long hours of sunlight in these regions increase the risk of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) light. Doctors identify UV light as one cause of this fleshy eye growth.
  • Exposure to sand and dust. Long-term exposure to dust increases the risk of Sand and dust are irritants that can inhibit your conjunctiva’s ability to lubricate your eye. People exposed to such irritants on a regular basis are more vulnerable to pterygium.
  • Other irritants. Exposure to wind, smoke and pollen can also increase the risk of getting this non-cancerous eye growth.

The eye doctors at VRMNY are leaders in eye treatment research. They have developed some of the most effective eye treatments in the field of ophthalmology. Your eye specialist may elect to use pterygium treatment surgery or another treatment method based on your particular diagnosis.

How Is Pterygium Treated?

The size of the growth influences the treatment your eye doctor chooses. Pterygium treatments include:

  • A special contact lens. Your doctor can prescribe special contact lenses placed over your eye to protect against environmental irritants and UV light.
  • Medications. Your doctor can opt for conservative treatment of a surfer’s eye through medications. For mild cases of surfer’s eye, over-the-counter tear drops may be enough to deal with redness and swelling. Other medications include topical corticosteroid anti-inflammatories and non-preserved ointments.
  • Pterygium excision surgery. When you consult the best doctors for pterygium surgery, the procedure to remove the growth improves your vision and stops eye discomfort. Surgical options include the bare sclera technique, conjunctival autograft technique, amniotic membrane grafting and adjunctive therapies.

At VRMNY, the eye treatment teams use an individualized treatment plan for every patient. The friendly surgical team takes you through every step of the pterygium eye surgery to help you prepare adequately for the procedure.

Is It Possible to Prevent Pterygium?

By examining the risk factors, you can avoid conditions that increase the risk of pterygium. Some ways of preventing surfer’s eye include:

  • Avoiding exposure. Protect your eyes from pterygium by avoiding environmental irritants such as dust, smoke and sand.
  • Using eye drops. If you have dry eyes, consult your eye doctor about the best eye drops for eye lubrication.
  • Wearing eye protection. If you have to work in sandy and dusty conditions, wear sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat to shield your eyes from dust, sunlight and wind. Use special sunglasses that block out UV light when working long hours in the sun.

If you’re worried about a growth in your eye, get it checked promptly by an experienced ophthalmologist. At Vitreous Retina Macula Consultants of New York, the best doctors for pterygium surgery consistently research the best eye treatments and latest technologies. Contact VRMNY today to get advice and a firm diagnosis from an experienced eye specialist.

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(212) 861-9797

Updated on May 17, 2022 by Ophthalmologists & Retina Specialists of Vitreous Retina Macula Consultants of New York

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