What words come to mind when you think of a bright and sunny holiday destination such as California? Beach, white sand, water? Surfing, sun, sunburn, awkwardly-located tan lines? How about Pterygium?
Pterygia, or its singular form, pterygium, is a benign overgrowth of conjunctival tissue on the eye and has a worldwide prevalence of about 10.2%1. The first part of the word, ptery, is derived from the Greek meaning “wing” (think of the winged pterodactyl), as the typical shape of a pterygium is a triangle. The conjunctiva is a membrane that sits over the whites of the eye, and if it grows over the cornea, the clear bubble over the coloured part of the eye, we get what we call a pterygium. Its little cousin, a pingueculum, is also an overgrowth of conjunctival tissue that presents as a little white or off-white yellowish bump on the sclera but doesn’t encroach onto the cornea.