Surf Shades

Surfer’s Eye
One of the hazards of having fun in the sun.


"Pterygium (pronounced tur-IJ-ee-um),also known as Surfer's Eye. It’s “pinkish-yellow, triangular-shaped tissue growth starting from the nasal area of your eye and grows towards the cornea (front, clear window of the eye). This lesion can be varied in its appearance from small and pink to large and angry red with symptoms of dry eye, cosmetically unacceptable appearance and or affecting vision. Pterygium is a common eye condition that affects people who spend a lot of time outdoors.

Pterygium The eye will look red and feel scratchy like something is in it, says Dr. Kathryn Colby, a cornea surgeon at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. Colby says it's a very common condition in the Caribbean ,Mexico or Hawaii, places closer to the equator where the sun is much stronger.

Still, Colby sees her fair share of pterygium cases in Boston, even in people who never stepped foot on a Surfboard but have spent lots of time in the sun. People who like to fish, sail, water ski, canoe, kayak, or live in tropical climates are all potentially at risk if they tend to not wear sunglasses when outdoors.

The problem comes from a combination of UV light exposure (from the sun and reflective glare of light off water), wind, and dust from sand that can make surfers' eyes more vulnerable, suggests Colby.

In the earliest stages of surfer's eye, the condition is called pinguecula, and it doesn't involve the cornea, the eyeball's outermost portion that covers the pupil and iris. No treatment is needed other than using drops of artificial tears to relieve any discomfort and reducing UV light exposure.

pingueculaBoth pinguecula and pterygium are non-cancerous growths that can occur in one or both eyes. But if the triangular-shaped growth gets larger, becomes more irritating and blurs vision, it can be removed by surgery.

Her advice? To keep your eyes safe when outdoors, sunglasses are important both for children and adults.

And since surfers also spend a lot of time hanging out at the beach, they should slip on their UV-protective shades on the shore -- along with a hat.

Treatments
This pterygium has progressed over the visual (pupillary) axis and is affecting the patient's vision. If a pterygium becomes red and irritated, lubricating eye drops or ointments can be placed onto the eye as to reduce the inflammation. Rarely, steroid drops may be prescribed.

Pterygium are surgically removed when they affect sight, grow such that your eye care professional expects it to impair vision, or if it is cosmetically unacceptable. Unfortunately, pterygium may return despite proper surgical removal. To help prevent recurrences surface radiation, conjunctival implants (grafts), or chemotherapy medications can be used.


Patients with pterygium should wear ultraviolet (UV) protective sunglasses, use artificial tears, and avoid dry and dusty conditions.   

Info from about.com, nlm.nih.gov

Other UV Risks On the EYE
Just as the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin, they can also harm the lens and cornea of the eyes.

UV radiation increases your odds of getting Cataracts,s a clouding of the lens inside the  eye which leads to a decrease in vision, which cloud the eye’s lens and lead to diminished eyesight. It has also been linked to Macular Degeneration, (AMD) is a medical condition which usually affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field because of damage to the retina, a treatable, but incurable disease of the macula, a part of the retina that is essential for sharp vision.

By Shelley Levitt WebMD


The bottom line is to always wear sunglasses to help prevent the issues you've read here.