What is Surfer's Eye (Pterygium)?

As this eye condition is most commonly found in people who have long term exposure to sun, wind, dust and sand, it’s easy to understand why it is commonly known as “Surfer’s Eye”.

Surfer’s Eye – or pterygium (terr-IJ-ium) to give it the medical terminology – is a pink, fleshy, wedge-shaped growth which develops on the white of the eyeball.

In most cases it forms in the inner corner of the eye near the nose, and over time expands across the eye’s surface towards the pupil.

If left untreated, Surfer’s Eye may cover the iris and pupil, reducing vision significantly.

Potential Risk Factors

  • Prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun (eg surfers, farmers, landscapers and other in outdoor occupations)
  • Dry eyes may accelerate the growth of pterygium
  • Surfer’s Eye most frequently effects men over the age of 60, but may develop at any age.

surfer looking into sun - surfer's eye

What Symptoms Should I Look Out for?

As pterygium is frequently painless, you may not even notice there is a problem. Some people experience symptoms such as bloodshot eyes, burning and itchiness, or the sensation of a foreign object in the eye.

How is Surfer's Eye Treated?

  • Over-the-counter lubricating eyedrops;
  • Prescription steroid eyedrops to ease redness, itchy, swelling, and pain.
  • Surgery may be recommended if the pterygium is causing major discomfort, interfering with your vision, or bothering you on a cosmetic level.

Unfortunately surgery isn’t necessarily a permanent solution, as pterygium may grow back.

If you suspect you have Surfer’s Eye, or have any other concerns with your vision or eye health, make an appointment to see one of our optometrists today at Aphrodite Livanes Eyecare Plus on (07) 3824 1878. In most cases, eye checkups can be bulk billed to Medicare.



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