What is a pterygium?
The white of the eye (called the sclera) and the inner side of the eyelids are covered by a thin layer of transparent tissue called the conjunctiva. A pterygium is a noncancerous (benign), fleshy growth of thickened conjunctiva. A pterygium can grow over the cornea (the transparent tissue covering the colored part, iris, and the hole in the iris, pupil). A pterygium can cause a disturbance in vision when it involves the cornea. Additionally, it is cosmetically unappealing. A pterygium generally occurs when conjunctival tissue starts growing abnormally. The growth generally starts from the part of the conjunctiva near the nose. It then grows further and may encroach on the cornea. Pterygium can affect anyone. It is, however, more common in:
- Adults aged between 20-40 years.
- People who live in sunny, hot, and dry climates.
- People who work outdoors.
Men may be affected slightly more commonly than women. Studies suggest a role of genes in the causation of pterygium. Although not strongly supported by evidence, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection may be associated with pterygium.