Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Alternative Name: Web eye.

A pterygium is fleshy tissue that grows over the cornea (the clear front window of the eye). A pterygium commonly grows from the nasal side of the sclera. It may remain small or may grow large enough to interfere with vision. A pterygium most commonly occurs on the inner corner of the eye, but can appear on the outer corner as well. A pterygium is not a cancer, and will not develop into a cancer. They are also fairly slow growing.

Types may include:

    Pterygium colli.

  • Pterygium unguis.

The causes of these lesions are not completely understood; however prolonged exposure to sunlight, especially UV rays seems to play an important role. Other environmental irritants such as dust and wind can also be implicated. People who spend considerable time outdoors for work reasons or recreation are more likely to develop pterygium. A dry eye may also contribute to a pterygium.

Risk Factors:

    Pterygium occur secondary to albedo concentration in the anterior eye.

  • Light entering the temporal limbus at 90 degrees is concentrated onto the medial limbus.

  • Related to corneal curvature.

  • Excessive exposure to sunlight.

  • Male.

  • Increasing age.

  • Working outdoors.

  • Excessive exposure to harsh environmental conditions such as dust, dirt, heat, wind, dryness, and smoke.

  • Excessive exposure to allergens such as industrial solvents and chemicals.

  • If you have immediate family members with pterygium, you may also be more likely to develop these growths.


    Grade 1: Normal appearing operative site.

  • Grade 2: Fine episcleral vessels in the site extending to the limbus.

  • Grade 3: Additional fibrous tissues in site.

  • Grade 4: Actual corneal recurrence.


Symptoms may include:

    A yellowish, raised bump on the conjunctiva.

  • Eye irritation.

  • Gritty feeling.

  • Blurred vision.

  • Dryness and soreness in eye.

  • Eye inflammation.

  • Eye Redness.

  • Sensation that something is in the eye

  • Eye watering.

  • Light sensitivity.


Your eye doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history, and perform a complete eye examination.

Tests may include the following:

    Visual acuity—a test to measure your ability to see and read the smallest letters on an eye chart mounted 14 to 20 feet away.

  • Slit lamp examination—a bright light with magnification used to view the eye.

  • Corneal topography—a computerized test that maps changes to the curvature of the cornea.

  • Photo documentation—photography to record the degree of growth of a pterygium.


A conservative approach to treatment is recommended for most people. Artificial tears can be used to relive the irritation and foreign body feeling in the eye. Occasionally, if the lesion becomes inflamed a mild decongestant or an antiinflammatory drop may be required.

Surgery is the only way to remove a pterygium. To help prevent the recurrence of the pterygium, a graft of healthy tissue to the surgical site is used.

Wound closure options may include:

    Bare sclera.

  • Simple closure.

  • Sliding flap.

  • Rotational flap.

  • Conjunctival graft.

Preventive Measures:

    Adequately protecting your eyes from excessive UV light with proper sunglasses;

  • Protecting your eyes in dry, dusty conditions with proper eyewear.

  • Applying artificial tears to your eyes in dry conditions.

Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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