Not only is bright sunlight uncomfortable when your eyes are not protected by sunglasses, but it is also harmful in ways you may have not considered. Most people are aware of the link between sun exposure and skin cancer, but are less aware about the increased risks and faster onset of cataracts and macular degeneration.
In addition, UV light and some genetic factors may increase the likelihood of Pterygium, a non-cancerous growth of the clear, thin tissue that lays over the white part of the eye (cornea). Most pterygium, don’t cause any problems and do not need treatment. However, if the growth begins to block vision, then it should be removed with surgery. Wearing sunglasses outdoors and a hat with a brim, help to reduce excessive exposure to the sun’s UV light and can help to slow growth of the pterygium. The primary symptom of a pterygium is a painless area of elevated white tissue, with blood vessels on the inner or outer edge of the cornea.
The initial treatment for pterygium patients is simple, start wearing sunglasses outdoors to protect your eyes from harmful UV light and see your eye doctor. If necessary, your doctor will prescribe medicated eye drops to ease irritation and dryness. Surgery is only necessary if your vision is affected and in 5 to 15% of the surgically removed pterygium cases, the growth returns, sometimes worse than before.