Surfer’s Eye/Growth on Eyeball

Surfer’s eye refers to growth on eyeballs that’s the result of spending too much time in the sun, unprotected from the ultraviolet rays. Surfer’s eye surgery may be required if you don’t get even the tiniest growth checked out right away at Eye Physicians in NYC near me. They have the best optometrists with extensive experience with surfer’s eye treatment and how to prevent it from recurring. Call at the first sign of trouble and protect your vision.

What Is Surfer’s Eye?

Surfer’s eye, medically called pterygium, is an eye condition characterized by a raised, fleshy growth on the conjunctiva, the white part of the eye. The growth typically appears on the side closest to the nose and could extend onto the cornea of the eye. While there is no exact cause for the condition, researchers believe that prolonged exposure to ultra-violet rays causes problems in the biological makeup of the eye. It’s estimated that 10 to 15 million Americans potentially need surfer’s eye treatment.

Growth on eyeball or eyelid is a common occurrence that’s easily manageable when you routinely get eye tests.  Usually, comprehensive eye care administered by your NYC optometrist catches difficult eye problems like growths that may need surfer’s eye surgery. For locals in Downtown Manhattan, Eye Physicians has the best and most thorough adult and pediatric eye doctors  Optometrist near me. In most cases, you’re in and out of the office in less than an hour.

Surfer’s Eye/Growth on Eyeball

What Causes Surfer’s Eye?

The source of surfer’s eye is multifaceted, with the primary environmental trigger being prolonged exposure to the elements that irritate the ocular surface. While UV radiation from the sun is a known risk factor, a deep dive reveals startling results. Even a one percent increase in ultraviolet radiation increases the risk of developing surfer’s eye by five to 14 percent.

Besides the sun damaging the delicate eye cells, you have the wind playing an active role. Dust and dirt cause problems by scratching the outer surface of the conjunctiva. For those who work primarily outdoors, you’re twice as likely to develop the condition.

Medical conditions also influence the development of surfer’s eye. Consult your NYC optometrist to rule out serious underlying eye problems if you suffer from conditions such as:

  • Autoimmune disease. Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome  and Crohn’s disease could put you at risk of getting ocular rosacea, surfer’s eye or punctual occlusion.
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV). The condition plays a role in surfer’s eye, conjunctival papilloma, conjunctival neoplasia, and ocular surface disease.
  • Diabetes. While there is no direct relation, on a metabolic level, high blood sugar could interfere with the health of the eye, making it more susceptible to ocular hypertension, and surfer’s eye.

Who’s at Risk for Surfer’s Eye?

According to the World Health Organization, ground surfaces like water reflect sunlight at 25 percent, beach sand at 15 percent, with snow being the most dangerous, reflecting nearly 80 percent of harmful UV radiation. This means anyone who loves water sports, like surfers, or winter sports, like skiers, is at risk. Additionally, if you live in a sunny, arid climate and spend more than four hours a day in the sun without protection, you’re risking getting sunburned eyes and surfer’s eye.

Those from countries near the equator where the sun is always glaring, are ten times more likely to suffer from pterygium. In the US, African Americans are two to three times more at risk than Caucasians. Higher incidences of the condition are also seen more in rural areas as people spend more time outdoors. Besides the location, other factors that make you vulnerable include:

  • Genetics. You can inherit markers for surfer’s eye.
  • Age. Those between 20 to 40 years of age must get every growth on eyeball checked as it could be surfer’s eye or something else like pinguecula, a growth associated with sunrays that’s not usually cancerous.
  • Youthfulness. While it’s rare, children who play outside in the sun are also at risk. Get routine pediatric eye exams to rule out common ailments like myopia or hyperopia, and get early detection for any growth on eyeballs.
  • Gender. Men seem to get the condition more than women.
  • Eye color. Light-colored eyes are deemed high-risk as they have less pigmentation to protect the eyes from harmful UV rays.

What Are the Symptoms of Surfer’s Eye?

The first thing you notice is the pink on the white conjunctiva that you could mistake for pink eye or blepharitis. Eyelids Yet the wing-shaped pink area is slightly raised, a clear sign for surfer’s eye. Most cases of surfer’s eye are non-cancerous and with early detection, the symptoms are easily controlled.

If left untreated, however, you could end up with a growth that’s unsightly, covers the cornea and needs emergency eye care. You may also notice other signs that you or your kids need surfer’s eye treatment, such as:

Additionally, the growth on the cornea could cause blurry vision and headaches that could make activities requiring sharp vision challenging like reading and driving. Your New York City based optometrist may suggest a refraction eye exam to confirm astigmatism. Once diagnosed, astigmatism correction is needed to resolve the refractive error before you receive surfer’s eye treatment.

What Are Options for Surfer’s Eye Treatment?

Based on the slit-lamp examination, your optometrist may recommend treatments that reduce the swelling and redness. For mild cases, lubricating or steroid eye drops and eye ointments is enough. For persistent swelling or redness, you may need anti-inflammatory medications.

If your vision is affected or there is unbearable discomfort, you may need surfer’s eye surgery. The in-office surgery takes less than 30 minutes and could involve growth removal with or without a graft or amniotic membrane transplant. Recovery takes about a month if you adhere to the instructions from your lazy eye doctor and with the help of antibiotics and steroid eye drops.

Given there is a 30 to 40 percent chance of recurrence, you also need to take precautionary measures to prevent the condition from happening again, such as:

  • Using UV 400 protection sunglasses
  • Wearing a wide brim hat to shield your eyes and face when outside
  • Staying indoors when the rays of the sun are the strongest
  • Keeping your eyes hydrated using artificial tears

Contact your surfer’s eye specialist near me in New York for an appointment at the first sign of growth on eyeball or any other irregular eye occurrence. Don’t take chances with your vision.

Page Updated on May 20, 2024 by Dr. William Hogue, OD (Optometrist) of Eye Physicians
William Hogue, OD

My name is Dr. William Hogue, and I am an optometrist dedicated to providing top-quality professional eye care. I'm trained in treating various ocular conditions, including dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, and retinal issues.

I earned my chemistry degree summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee. Subsequently, I obtained my Doctorate of Optometry (OD) and Master of Science (MS) from the New England College of Optometry. Following graduation, I completed an ocular disease residency at the State University of New York’s College of Optometry. Beyond my clinical work, I have also been a supporter of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH).

More about Dr. Hogue

Eye Physicians
110 Lafayette St, Suite 503
New York, NY 10013
(212) 292-4814

Why Choose Eye Physicians?

Entrust the care of your precious eyesight to highly skilled and experienced eye care professionals. For top-notch ophthalmologists and optometrists in Downtown Manhattan, choose Eye Physicians. Eye Physicians ensures prompt care, precise diagnosis, and personalized treatment plans.

Schedule an Appointment