A pterygium (pronounced ter-ig'-ee-um) typically starts growing near the inside corner of the eye. It often extends onto the cornea, toward the pupil. Both eyes can be affected.
Composed of conjunctival tissue, a pterygium may grow large enough to interfere with sight and can cause other annoying symptoms. In these cases, it may have to be surgically removed. If a pterygium does not interfere with sight or cause annoying symptoms, it can safely be left alone.
A pterygium is not a cancer and will not develop into a cancer. Usually, they grow very slowly.
PINGUECULA: A pinguecula (pin-gwek'- u-lah) is similar to a pterygium. It is usually a soft yellow mass confined to the white part of the eye. It can be surgically removed in the same way as a pterygium, but this is rarely necessary.
Causes of a Pterygium
Although the exact cause of a pterygium is not known, it is more likely to develop in people who live in tropical climates, work outdoors and spend a lot of time in the sun.
Exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun is thought to play a major part in pterygium formation. Pterygia occur three times more frequently in men than in women. They rarely develop in children.