Pterygium, also known as Surfer's Eye or Qarnita in Maltese, is a very common condition amongst the Maltese people, especially those who spend a lot of time outdoors, which is caused by exposure to sunlight, wind and dust.
Prolonged exposure to UV rays and the abrasive action of wind and dust causes the eye to protect itself by growing an extra layer of thin skin over the conjunctiva (the white part). The pterygium is an elevated, wedge-shaped growth that develops usually from the side of the nose outward towards the pupil.
Although the pterygium itself is not a dangerous type of growth, it can cause a lot of discomfort and itching since there's a foreign body lodged in the eye.
A large pterygium can alter the shape of the eye and cause astigmatism. In very severe and untreated cases, the pterygium can grow large enough to cover the pupil and causes blurred vision.
A pterygium can easily be removed by surgery and an eye doctor will determine the best procedure to use in your case, depending on the size, shape and position of the pterygium.
In cases where the pterygium becomes very large or inflamed, surgical removal becomes a necessity.