Thursday, June 1, 2017

Have you noticed your "sunkissed" eyes looking yellow lately?

Southern California boasts 281 sunny days a year. Sunny days means tremendous amount of direct ultraviolet radiation exposure to our skin and eye surface. Without the physical protection of sunglasses and a wide brim hat, continuous UV radiation results in chronic and permanent changes on the white part of the eye called conjunctiva. 

Conjunctiva when healthy is smooth, moist, and white; it has a glistening reflection from an abundant tear film covering it. Sun leads to mutations in the way elastin and collagen, the soft tissue building blocks, are synthesized on the eye surface and dermis of the skin. These mutations lead to permanent deposition of yellow, fatty, elevated tissue on the white of the conjunctiva. These striking deposits grow over time to unsightly and commonly irritating lesions called pingueculi. These areas are frequently easily irritated by wind or allergies and turn the whole eye red.  When the fatty deposits cross over the cornea, the clear window of the eye, the clarity of vision is affected by the pulling of the scar affecting the optics of the eye.

Most people are not aware that removal of the pterygium is a short outpatient procedure with minimal down time. It is done at an outpatient facility and most patients return to desk jobs within two days. With the use of doctor prescribed eye drops the healing process continues for a month after surgery until the eye looks “pristine” and white as it did before sun damage ravaged the ocular surface.

Surfers and farm workers are people that are most affected by pterygia. People who spend significant hours outdoors golfing, sailing, fishing or playing tennis maybe at risk as well if sunglasses are not worn. Some people have a genetic predisposition to develop sun damage
as early as teens. For those patients the cosmetic effect of the pterygium or even pingueculum is quite significant.

Our office speciliazes in identifying and treating sun damage of the ocular surface with medical options as well as a more definitive surgical removal.

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