Pterygium may not be a word you’re familiar with, but if you live anywhere with a lot of sun and surf (such as California), chances are that you’ve seen one (or even have one yourself. Maybe even two.) This fleshy growth on the front surface of the eye is a very common condition, albeit an unsightly one. Pterygia (the plural of pterygium) appear like a triangular whitish-yellowish overgrowth from the whites of the eye over the transparent cornea. In the very early stages of a pterygium, you may not even realize you have one developing. If that last statement has you peering closely into a mirror to find that you indeed have the beginnings of a pterygium, stay calm and keep reading.
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Irritated, sore, burning, scratchy, gritty, watery? No, not an eye infection (though these are also symptoms of infection) – just dry eyes! Dry eye disease, or dry eye syndrome, affects up to 50 million Americans, so if your eyes feel a little like the Mojave Desert, you’re in good company. In recent years, there’s been a boom of interest in dry eye disease, and subsequently, a whole lot of new treatment options have emerged. While some of these can cost you thousands of dollars in treatment fees, for mild or temporary episodes of dry eye flare-ups, some simple home remedies might just do the trick.
When it comes to parts of your eyeball, you generally don’t want things to detach. Usually, attached is a better situation. It would be an ideal scenario if your eyelashes were to remain attached to your eyelid, and for your crystalline lens inside the eye to stay attached to the ciliary muscles that control how it focuses on near objects. Likewise, you probably want your retina to be attached to the wall of the eyeball because if it isn’t, it makes it difficult to see.
Grandpa Norman had cataracts, Grandma Joan had cataracts, your mom is booked in for cataract surgery next week, and we all know about Uncle Chester who got struck by lightning and somehow survived but developed cataracts within the month. In all likelihood, you know at least one person who has cataracts, or who had cataracts, so cataracts must be a pretty common occurrence. But what causes them, exactly?
In all likelihood, you’ve heard of cataracts before. Depending on how well-versed you are in the field of ophthalmology, the mention of cataracts may elicit no reaction or may trigger a fear of impending blindness. The good news is that cataracts are not usually associated with permanent blindness. The bad news is that cataracts are a normal part of aging, so if you live long enough, you can probably expect to develop them at some point.
The eyes are delicate, sensitive organs. If you’ve ever gotten a single particle of sand in there, you’d know the distress it can cause. More serious injuries to the eye can result in permanent vision loss, whether immediately or later on. Having a basic understanding of what to do for an eye injury is beneficial for both yourself and the other eyeballs you may be responsible for (such as dependent children or others in your workplace). However, if ever in doubt, always remember to call emergency services or refer on to a medical specialist depending on the nature of the injury.
It’s not an uncommon statement, usually from parents to their device-addicted children – «If you’re not careful you’re going to ruin your eyes!» However, is there any real truth to this old wives’ tale? Will watching TV for too long make your eyes square? Will staring at your computer cause you to be short-sighted? Will playing games on your cell phone burn out your retinas?
Sun, wind, surf, and… a pterygium. Depending on where you live in the world, the prevalence of pterygia sits anywhere between 1% of the population to over 30%. This fleshy wing-shaped overgrowth of tissue from the whites of the eye to the cornea (the transparent dome over the colored iris) is typically dismissed as a slightly unsightly cosmetic issue for most people. As it’s also nicknamed «surfer’s eye», you can imagine how it might relate to sun, wind, and surf. In some cases, a pterygium can progress so far over the cornea that it becomes more than a slightly unsightly cosmetic issue.
In May 2022, the World Health Organization declared (yet another) international public health emergency. While still reeling from COVID-19, planet Earth now also has to deal with a global monkeypox outbreak. Although much less sensationalized (and deadly) compared to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19, the monkeypox virus is still causing some disruption with over 30,000 cases and 32 deaths in the US as of mid-February 2023. And at the time of writing, in the lead for the highest case count of monkeypox is the state of California.
If you think about how much you depend on your vision for everyday tasks, it’s not surprising that being confronted with a sight-threatening eye disease can make you feel, well, a little down in the dumps. However, not only is having vision loss linked to an increased risk of mental illness, but the relationship goes in the other direction too – having a mental health issue can make you more likely to develop vision problems.