Pterygium is an eye condition that is very common in those who spend a lot of time outdoors and is often referred to as surfer’s eye. However, it can affect anyone of any age, including children. Being in bright sunlight with UV exposure to the eye is the primary cause of a pterygium. A pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that starts in the clear, thin tissue (conjunctiva) of the eye. This growth covers the white part of the eye (sclera) and extends onto the cornea. It is often slightly raised and contains visible blood vessels. The problem may occur on one or both eyes. They can also become inflamed, causing red and irritated eyes.


The main symptom of surfer's eye, or pterygium, is a growth of pink, fleshy tissue on the conjunctiva, the clear tissue that lines your eyelids and covers your eyeball. It usually forms on the side closest to your nose and grows toward the pupil area. It can look scary, but it isn’t cancer. The growth might spread slowly during your life or stop after a certain point. In extreme cases, it can cover your pupil and cause vision problems.

Diagnosing a pterygium is straightforward. Your eye doctor might be able to diagnose this condition based on a physical examination using a slit lamp. This lamp allows your doctor to see your eye with the help of magnification and bright lighting. If your doctor needs to do additional tests, they might include:

Visual acuity test: Reading letters on an eye chart
Corneal topography: Used to measure curvature changes in your cornea
Photo documentation: Taking pictures to track the growth rate of the pterygium