According to Dictionary.com, a pterygium is an abnormal triangular mass of thickened conjunctiva extending over the cornea and interfering with vision. Wikipedia says it may be caused by long term exposure to ultraviolet light. The actual cause is unknown.
The picture I’ve provided is what it looks like when surgery is necessary. With my wife, Josie, the pterygium barely covers her iris.
All of my in-laws are affected. My father-in-law didn’t have them but my mother-in-law did, as did all her children. That includes Josie. It’s obviously heredity from her bloodline.
My mother-in-law, Dina, had surgery to remove hers around 20 years ago, in Arizona. One sister-in-law, Mia, has had hers removed in the Philippines, twice, and may need surgery again. With some people, they grow back after surgery. Surgery isn’t recommended unless it impairs vision.
I don’t usually look in the eyes of my in-laws, unless they ask me to do so. Even if I saw it in their eyes at one time or another, I wouldn’t remember which ones had it severe enough to notice. I can only hope the condition didn’t pass on to any of my grandchildren or nieces and nephews.
Even if it doesn’t affect the vision yet, a pterygium can cause an eye to itch. Eye drops that help shrink eye veins will help relieve the itching and slow down the development of the condition.
Josie uses eye drops called “Naphcon-A”, produced by Alcon. It effectively slowed the growth for years. Only recently has the itching gotten worse, and only for a couple of days at a time. She has one in each eye but neither have affected her vision yet. She’s already farsighted and has been since she was born.
People are living longer, regardless of what professionals may say. Many conditions and diseases don’t appear until reaching beyond the years that used to be the average lifespan. My father developed cancer in his 80s. Most of my relatives, on his side, didn’t live into their 80s and could have developed it as well. We will never know for sure.
Some conditions are common birth defects even if no one talks about them as such. Nearsightedness, farsightedness, pterygiums and other eye conditions are genetic birth defects. Some can be corrected with surgery and some cannot. An ophthalmologist can do the surgery but an optometrist cannot.