Laguna Hills

24422 Avenida De La Carlota #110,
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

(949) 441-5444

Santa Ana

3500 S Bristol St #202,
Santa Ana, CA 92704

(949) 770-1322

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The importance of proper sun protection: How we prevent and treat pterygium (surfer’s eye)

There are many opportunities to take advantage of all that our slice of southern California offers in terms of natural wonders and plenty of sunshine. However, just as you must protect your skin from the effects of ultraviolet light emitted by the sun’s rays, you must also protect your eyes from damage caused by exposure to harmful UV radiation. 

We at the  Orange County Eye Institute have treated many patients with a condition called “pterygium.” This condition is also known as “surfer’s eye” because it tends to affect those individuals who get a lot of sun exposure (like surfers!). In addition to unprotected exposure to sunlight and tanning, risk factors for pterygium include working and playing in windy, dusty, or dry environments.  

Furthermore, this condition affecting the conjunctiva (white of the eye) and cornea (outer layer of the eye) can also be aggravated by chronic dry eye and irritation. Now, our specialists encourage patients to get into a habit of regular eye exams. We can detect problems early, so they can be treated promptly without complications such as vision loss. 

Additionally, we encourage any readers with potential symptoms of surfer’s eye to contact us promptly. These symptoms include:

  • A fleshy-colored growth
  • A whitish-red growth
  • Raised tissue that is shaped like a wedge
  • Tissue with blood vessels
  • Growths that may extend from the conjunctiva to the cornea
  • Redness and swelling (of the whites of the eyes)
  • Dryness
  • Itchiness
  • A burning sensation
  • Blurred vision
  • A sensation of “something in your eye”

These symptoms can range in intensity from mild to severe. Sometimes, pterygium is “asymptomatic” or silent. For mild cases, we may monitor the growth, or we may support enhanced comfort by recommending products such as artificial tears, eye allergy drops, prescription drops, or ointment. Surfer’s eye rarely causes problems such as scarring. However, Orange County Eye Institute may recommend surgical intervention if the pterygium spreads to the cornea and interferes with visual clarity. Surgery is also generally indicated if pterygia are thick, cause pain, change the curve or shape of the cornea, and affect blinking function. 


(949) 441-5444

The best medicine 

Why treat when you can prevent? We always encourage patients to wear sunglasses designed to protect the eye’s surface and tissues from UV radiation. When working around dust or other irritants, it is always a good practice to wear proper goggles and protective eyewear appropriately. Keeping your eyes well-lubricated is also essential, and artificial tears can help to fight irritating dryness. 

Schedule your appointment today

Different ocular conditions can present as discoloration, raised tissues, or growths. Several diseases and concerns we treat and manage are associated with functional or vision changes and irritation or pain. Some of these conditions are benign; others are not. So, it is critical for our specialty center to rule out any other problems that may require prompt treatment. An accurate diagnosis is essential to develop interventions that ease symptoms, resolve the underlying condition, and support long-term eye health. 

Call (949) 441-5444 with questions or to make an appointment at our Laguna Hills, CA office.

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George Salib , MD, MS

Dr. George Salib is a leading cataract specialist and top ophthalmic surgeon in California.

An alumnus of UCLA, Georgetown University, and University of Wisconsin Medical School, he received ophthalmology training at King-Drew Medical Center, a residency program affiliated with UCLA, and followed a fellowship in advanced surgical techniques at Tulane University, New Orleans.

Besides cataract treatments, Dr. Salib is also experienced in multifocal lenses, laser eye treatments, Glaucoma, corneal transplants, macular degeneration, Comprehensive eye care, Laser assisted cataract surgery, Dry eye and pterygium surgery. He is passionate about educating others on eye health and is committed to helping patients maximize their vision and living their lives to the fullest.

Connect with George Salib , MD, MS on Linkedin

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