A pterygium is a thickening of the conjunctiva in one or both eyes, usually on the side nearest the nose. It is a benign condition and not cancerous.

We do not know what causes it, however it is more common in people who work outdoors or have had a lot of sun and wind exposure over the years.

Risk factors are:

  • exposure to sunny, dusty, sandy, or windblown areas.
  • Farmers, fishermen, and people living near the equator are often affected.


These include:

  • irritation, burning or feeling of something in your eye
  • redness or a painless area of raised white tissue, with blood vessels on the inner or outer edge of the cornea.


Usually pterygium can be diagnosed by your family doctor or optometrist by examining the eye and eyelids.


Most pterygia cause no problems and do not need treatment.

If the area continues to grow and begins to block vision or cause ongoing eye discomfort,  then surgery can be done to remove the pterygia.

After surgery, take extra care with wearing protective glasses and a hat with a brim to prevent it returning.

Self care

Wear sunglasses when outside.

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team .