Most patients have no symptoms in the initial stages of a pterygium. After time, a patient or friend might notice a small piece of reddish tissue growing over the coloured part of the eye from the white of the eye.
In some patients, this pterygium may become red and inflamed in certain circumstances: smoke-filled rooms, air-conditioning locations, lack of sleep, sunlight, contact lens use.
In a small percentage of patients, the pterygium may actually interfere and reduce vision by pulling on the cornea (window of the eye) and deforming it (astigmatism), or may grow to the extent that it encroaches on the line of vision so as to interferes with vision.
In an extremely small number of patients, the pterygium may actually prevent the eye from moving fully in all directions, particularly in the direction towards the ear.
Most pterygiums are cosmetically annoying. For this reason, most pterygiums are removed before they grow significantly over the cornea. Early removal has been shown to decrease recurrence rates and decrease the risk of being left with a permanent white scar on the cornea. Additionally early removal decrease the size of the conjunctival autograft harvested from the patient’s superior (under lid area) conjunctiva which is used as a donor to patch the affected site and work as a blockade from future recurrence.