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A pterygium is a benign growth in the eyeball caused by sun damage. The triangular-shaped, yellow-white or pinkish lesion usually appears on the inner corner of the eye. It can grow large enough to interfere with vision. It may grow slowly throughout your life or may stop growing altogether. This lesion does not damage your eye, but can cause redness, a burning, itchy sensation and feeling like something is in your eye.

Frequent exposure to bright sunlight seems to increase the likelihood of pterygium. If you spend a good deal of time in sunny, windy areas, wear protective eyewear – preferably wrap-around sunglasses with UV protection – and a wide-brim hat.

If you have a lesion, over-the-counter eye drops or ointments may reduce the irritation and redness. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe steroid eye drops to relieve redness, itching, swelling and pain. If the growth spreads and affects your vision, during an outpatient procedure, a surgeon can remove the growth, then fill the space left with tissue from your eye membrane (conjunctiva) or a natural membrane.

A pterygium is diagnosed during an eye exam. To detect the character and extent of your lesion, your ophthalmologist may use a slit lamp’s magnified light source.

What are the symptoms of a pterygium?

  • Redness
  • Burning sensation
  • Itchiness
  • Gritty feeling
  • Feeling like something is in your eye

At best, this condition is a minor nuisance. At worst, it affects your vision. The experts at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, accurately diagnosis and treat this condition so you can return to the activities you enjoy.


Eye Examination - During your appointment, your ophthalmologist closely examines your eye. If needed, additional techniques may be used to confirm your diagnosis.

Slit-Lamp Exam - The lamp’s bright light source and magnification allows your doctor to look inside your eye to detect the character and extent of the lesion.

Lab Test - If necessary, your doctor will take a sample of the growth so it can be analyzed in our laboratory.


Topical Eye Drops and Ointments - If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter eye drops or ointments to reduce irritation and redness. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe steroid eye drops to relieve redness, itching, swelling and pain.

Surgical Removal - If all other treatments fail and the growth begins affecting your vision, you may need surgery. In an outpatient procedure , the surgeon removes the growth, then uses tissue from your eye membrane (conjunctiva) or a natural membrane to surgically fill the space left by the growth.

Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?

Trusted Leaders. When you choose Bascom Palmer, you place your trust in a world-class provider. Our multidisciplinary ophthalmology team lectures throughout the world and conducts research to provide patients with excellent results.

Patient-Centered Approach to Care. Vision problems are challenging. Your vision care shouldn’t be. We coordinate your care every step of the way, from your initial exam through treatment and follow-up.

Full Spectrum Care for Multiple Eye Conditions. From eye exams to eyeglasses, lab tests to surgical treatments for serious eye diseases, our comprehensive care meets the needs of infants, children and adults.

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