If you spend a lot of time outdoors, then you likely know about the dangers of the sun. Too much exposure to UV radiation from the sun can lead to various cancers, sunburns, and sun poisoning.
But did you know it can also lead to a plethora of eye problems? One of the most distinct eye issues that can result from sun exposure is pterygium.
A pterygium is a fleshy growth that appears in the corner of your eye and slowly spreads across the sclera or white part of your eye. It has the potential to reach your cornea and, in some cases, grow over your pupil and block your vision.
While a pterygium can affect your vision, it is more common that it will only be an unattractive cosmetic problem. Pterygia are noncancerous and not contagious because they are not viral infections.
Keep reading to learn more about pterygia and why they are not contagious.
How Do You Treat a Pterygium?
Removing a pterygium is generally unnecessary unless it is affecting your daily life. If you decide to have it removed, you should first understand that a pterygium does have a chance to grow back.
Thanks to modern surgical practices, the odds of this happening are much lower than it used to be, but there is no guarantee that it won’t grow back. The modern grafting method of removal is more effective than the traditional bare sclera approach.
During a pterygium removal, the problem tissue gets removed by scalpel under a mild sedative to block pain. The old style of pterygium removal left the area that had the growth removed open to the air. This method resulted in many pterygia regrowing.
Nowadays, surgeons graft skin onto the incision site to aid in the healing process. The tissue for the graft comes from beneath the eyelid to keep the donating area safe from exposure.
The procedure takes at least half an hour to complete for a single eye. If you need pterygium removed from both eyes, you will need to wait a few weeks between procedures.
This time allows your first eye to get a head start on the recovery process. And it ensures you can see through at least one eye at all times throughout the healing process.
Avoiding Too Much Sun Exposure
Since getting rid of pterygia permanently can be tricky, it’s best to avoid them altogether. The leading cause of pterygia is lots of sun exposure.
So, limiting your exposure to the sun is the best way to reduce your risk of developing a pterygium. It is also simply better for your body and eye health in general.
The simplest way to reduce your sun exposure is to limit your outdoor time whenever possible. Getting sun is vital for your physical and mental wellbeing, but you only need so much.
Also, be sure to wear sunglasses that completely block harmful UV rays. You should be able to find some that offer 100% UV or UVA/UVB protection.
Using non UV protective lenses is worse for your eyes than not wearing shades at all. Consider wearing a brimmed hat to block direct light from your eyes and protect your face.
Are you concerned about developing a pterygium? Schedule an appointment at Westlake Eye Specialists in Austin, TX, to keep your eyes safe and healthy!