Ocular Surface Conditions
A pterygium is a common, elevated, wedge-shaped growth on the cornea (the clear front window of the eye). Although they are benign (non-cancerous) growths, they can continue to grow across the cornea. They are caused by UV exposure from the sun, particularly UV light from the side, and this damage can accumulate from childhood. For this reason, a hat and wrap-around UV-blocking sunglasses are recommended when outside.
Pterygia can become intermittently red and irritated, and may cause concern about appearance. As pterygia grow, they can cause distortion of the cornea leading to astigmatism, which degrades vision. If pterygia grow across the pupil, they can block vision.
Some pterygia can be managed without surgery, but many patients with pterygia will eventually require surgery to remove it. Pterygium surgery is usually done as a day surgery procedure in hospital, with local anaesthetic and sedation.
Ocular UV Protection
Exposure of the eyes to UV light from the sun increases the risk of developing conditions such as pterygium and a related condition called pinguecula. UV exposure is also a major risk factor for development of skin cancers affecting the eyelids, which are difficult to protect well with sunscreen. In addition, UV light is a significant contributor to the development of a certain type of cataract (cortical cataract). Wrap-around UV-blocking sunglasses and a hat are important for protecting against these common eye diseases, and this protection should start during childhood.
A chalazion is a benign lump that forms within the oil-secreting glands (meibomian glands) of the upper or lower eyelid. The contents of a chalazion include blocked fatty secretions (lipids) that normally help spread the tear film evenly and reduce evaporation.
A chalazion will often resolve with warm compresses and gentle massage of the eyelid. However, some chalazia persist for more than several weeks, and may require a procedure to help them resolve.
Dry eye is a common ocular condition where the eye produces insufficient tears or poor quality tears, which lead to chronic soreness, dryness, irritation, ocular discomfort and blurred vision. A common symptom of dry eye is a watery eye, especially in windy conditions, as ocular irritation stimulates increased tear production. Although it is usually not a serious problem, it can have profound impacts on quality of life. In severe cases, it can lead to significant ocular surface complications. There are many interventions to treat dry eye which can improve ocular symptoms and quality of life.
Blepharitis is a common eyelid inflammation leading to chronic irritation and discomfort, redness of the eyelid margins and a foreign body sensation.
Blepharitis has two basic forms:
• Anterior blepharitis, affecting the base of the eyelashes.
• Posterior blepharitis, linked to dysfunction of oil-secreting meibomian glands within the eyelids. Often this leads to a poor quality tear film and dry eyes.