Although we all know how important sunscreen is in protecting our skin, many don’t realize the effect the sun can have on our eyes. Wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection helps decrease the risk of future eye problems such as pinguecula, pterygium and, more rarely, cancer.
Pinguecula and pterygium are the most common eye issues that arise in people who spend a lot of time outside. Both are non-cancerous growths that appear on the conjunctiva, which is the clear, thin tissue that covers the white part of the eye. Pinguecula only occur on conjunctiva while pterygium start on the conjunctiva, but then also move on to the cornea. Neither are dangerous, but can cause some inflammation, irritation and drying of the eye. An eye doctor can treat the inflammation and drying with topical eye drops.
The only way to remove pinguecula or pterygium is through surgery. For pinguecula, this is only necessary if it becomes a cosmetic concern. In the case of pterygium, surgery may be recommended if they affect vision by inducing astigmatism or block vision directly.
Ophthalmologist Thomas Henderson, M.D. explains, “A pingueculum almost never needs surgery. A pterygium will continue to grow if it is constantly inflamed from drying. They are easier to remove when they are smaller, but appear likely to continue to grow. In good hands, surgical removal should have a success rate greater than 95%, but the simple shortcuts taken by most surgeons lead to long-term success rates for in the 50 to 60% range. “
If you develop any type of growth on your eye or notice a change to your eye’s appearance or your vision, it’s extremely important to make an appointment with your eye doctor. With the most advanced technology, Eye Clinic of Austin is highly skilled in reviewing these concerns and providing treatment recommendations.