A pterygium is a benign or noncancerous growth that develops on the conjunctiva or mucous membrane that covers the white part of your eye. It is usually triangular in shape. In some cases, a pterygium can extend to the cornea (the clear part of your eye that covers your iris and pupil – center of the eye). Pterygia usually does not cause problems or require treatment, although they can be removed if they interfere with your vision.

Photo taken from Kanski’s clinical ophthalmology


Exposure to ultraviolet light is thought to be the most significant cause of pterygia. They occur more often in people who live in warm climates and spend a lot of time outdoors in sunny environments. The risk of pterygia is higher in ozone layer-depleted regions of the world due to reduced ultravoilet filtering. Other risk factors include having light skin and light eyes.

Symptoms and Signs

  1. Localised eye redness
  2. A gritty feeling in the eye
  3. A feeling that there is foreign object in  the eye
  4. Dryness of the eye
  5. Blurring of vision if there is involvement of the cornea


Treatment depends on the size and the nature of the pterygium, the symptoms and whether vision is affected. Pterygium can be treated medically or surgically.

Medical Treatment

Lubricant eyedrop may be used to reduce eye irritation and redness

Surgical Treatment

Surgery is recommended when vision is affected.

Surgery is performed under local anaesthesia and the procedure takes about 30 minutes. Eyedrops (combination of antibiotic and steroid) will be given after surgery to prevent infection and to assist with healing.



To reduce the risk of pterygium formation, the following measures are recommended:

  1. Use sunglasses that block out ultra-violet
  2. Wear sunglasses and hat when  outdoor


  1. Pterygium: Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis – Healthline › Reference Library
  2. Pterygium (conjunctiva) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  3. Pterygium – causes, symptoms, treatment & prevention
  4. Kanski’s Clinical Ophthalmology


Last Reviewed : 23 August
Writer : Dr. Rosniza bt. Ab Razak
Accreditor : Dr. Shamala a/p Retnasabapathy
Reviewer : Dr. Rosniza bt. Ab Razak