Pterygium

What is it?

Pterygium is a benign growth from the lining of the eyelid (the conjunctiva) onto the clear front surface of the eye (the cornea). It can distort or cover the cornea and significantly reduce sight.

Pterygium is also known as surfer’s eye. It’s a common cause of sight loss in one or both eyes in many parts of the world.

  • Causes

    Being exposed to ultraviolet light, for example from sunlight, is thought to be the main trigger for pterygium. But genetics may play an important part too, as some people seem to be more at risk than others.

  • Symptoms

    Some people with pterygium will not have symptoms. But the eye can become red and swollen (inflamed) and may feel irritated.

    As pterygium grows, it can change the curve of the cornea (astigmatism). This can make vision blurred and lead to eye strain. It may get in the way of your line of sight.

    Pterygium is wing-shaped. Many people say they don’t like the way it makes them look.

  • Treatments

    At the moment the only treatment for pterygium is to surgically remove it. Steroid drops can help treat inflammation but they don’t affect the growth itself.

  • Research

    Pterygium can return after surgery, sometimes more than once and often it will be worse than before. Current research aims to prevent pterygium from coming back. Research also aims to prevent the scarring that can happen after surgery.

    Read our research projects
  • Clinical trials

    You could play an important part in eye research by being a participant in clinical research study that may benefit many people. You could even help shape clinical research by becoming more actively involved and having a say. Patients, carer, or anyone with an interest can help.

    What are clinical trials

    Clinical trials are research studies that find out if a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. They are a key research tool for improving medical knowledge and patient care. The people who carry out research are mostly the same doctors and healthcare professionals who treat people. Their aim is to find better ways of treating patients and keeping people healthy.

    Taking part

    Here are some ways to find out about research projects and clinical trials that you can get involved in.

    UK Clinical Trials Gateway

    The UK Clinical Trials Gateway run by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) provides easy to understand information about clinical research trials running in the UK, and gives to a large range of information about these trials. It is designed to enable patients and clinicians to locate and contact trials of interest. Visit their website and select the eye condition that you are interested in.

    NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio

    The NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio is a database of high-quality clinical research studies in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Within this the Ophthalmology Specialty Group supports a national portfolio of research studies in ophthalmology and the vision sciences. See their website for details.

    If you wish to join a trial it is always best to discuss this with your doctor or clinical team first.

Last updated April 2016
Approved by Professor Harminder Dua, University of Nottingham

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