Surfer’s eye : Causes ,Symptoms and it’s Mechanism

Surfer’s eye : Causes ,Symptoms and it's Mechanism

The surfer’s eye or pterygium is a disease in which there is a growth from the cornea region all along the pupil causing obstruction to the vision. It usually causes inflammation or redness in the eye which in severe conditions can be proven fatal to the patient. It can be treated by surgical means such as the amniotic membrane transplantation method.

Surfer’s eye

It is also called as pterygium or eye web. In this case, there is a growth of pinkish, triangular-shaped growth from the cornea near the nose end and goes on increasing covering pupil which results in loss of vision. Though this disease has no particular cause or reason and it can be fatal to patients.

Causes of Surfer’s eye

  There is no particular cause for the occurrence of this disease. It can be caused by increased exposure to wind or sand or sunlight. People who are living in windy regions as well as near to the equator tend to get this diseased condition. This condition is most common in men rather than in women. It occurs twice in men than in women.

There is a partial relation between this disease and exposure to UV light as well as with genetic factors. Long-term exposure in UV light increases the chances of getting surfer’s eye. Also, genetic factors have an impact on surfer’s eye disease. Pinguecula and tumors in a eye have similar conditions like the surfer’s eye disease.

Symptoms of Surfer’s eye

There are some various other signs and symptoms that are seen in this disease, which are

  • Redness in the eye which is persistent
  • Inflammation
  • Sensation of a foreign body inside the eye
  • Tears or watering of eyes
  • Itchy and dry eyes

As the severity of the disease increases, the surfer’s eye can affect or cause the loss of vision. It affects the cornea by obscuring the optical centre and causes astigmatism and also induces corneal scarring. These symptoms can also cause problems in cosmetic appearance in many patients. In some regions of the world, patients can be ranging from 1% to almost 30%. It becomes even more common with the increase in age. Also with the defect in the tumor-suppressing gene causes surfer’s eye.


It is characterized by actinic elastosis i.e, elastotic degeneration of collagen and fibrovascular proliferation. Surfer’s eye or pterygia has a head and a neck that joins with the main portion of the body. Stocker’s line is a line of iron deposition which is present beside the head of a pterygium. It indicates the pattern of growth through the location of a line.

Some of the researchers suggest that a genetic predisposition of vimentin, which causes cellular movement of keratoblasts. These cells help in rising layers in the cornea. It also causes congenital pterygium which is seen in infants.

It has different segments such as

Fuchs’ patches – these are mild minute gray blemishes seen near the head of the pterygium.

Stocker’s line – these are iron deposits which are of brown colour.

 Hood – pterygium has a fibrous non-vascular portion

Head – a typically raised and highly vascular apex of pterygium.

Body – a fleshy part which has tortuous vessels.

Superior edge – upper edge of the portion which is either triangle or wing-shaped in pterygium.

Inferior edge – lower edge of the portion which is either triangle or wing-shaped in pterygium.


It can easily diagnose by viewing the patient’s eye properly without any specific need. Since, there are diseases that have similar symptoms or appearance so in order to differentiate them from surfer’s eye disease, one must undergo differential diagnosis which helps in the differentiation of these diseases.  

Corneal tomography is a practical technique that is performed to diagnose the surfer’s eye when there is a severe condition.

In differential diagnosis, the pterygium is differentiated from pinguecula, which has similarities histologically as well as etiologically. The major difference is that the pinguecula can only be seen in the conjunctiva but unlike pterygium, it doesn’t spread to limbus or cornea.

There is another condition which is also called as pseudopterygium, which causes adhesion of inflammatory conjunctiva. But unlike surfer’s eye, it can occur at any point in cornea and also adhesion is limited to apex only usually.


The treatment of surfer’s eye under extreme conditions such as loss of vision or other visual disturbances or in case of symptoms which cannot be managed,then opts for performing a surgery.


Also called as auto-grafting method. This is a surgical procedure in which causes removal of surfer’s eye or pterygium effectively. The tenous layer which is present in the sclera region is also removed along with the removal of surfer’s eye.

In this surgery, Actually there is the removal of bare sclera with conjunctival tissue from the area of healthy conjunctiva. Then, there is transplantation of that “self tissue” to the bare sclera and then with the help of sutures and tissue adhesives, the fixation is done.

However, after conjuctival autograft surgery, the reoccurrence of the surfer’s eye disease is less than six months when it is compared with amniotic membrane transplantation. In order to decrease the risk of recurrence, radiotherapy is used as an attempt.

Amniotic membrane transplantation

This is a safe and effective method for the surfer’s eye removal. It provides a practical alternative for the conjunctival autograft transplantation surgery that helps in the removal of surfer’s eye. This transplantation surgery is taking place since 1940s.

A tissue that is acquired from the innermost layer of the placenta of a human that is used to heal and replace the damaged mucosal membrane and the restoration of the ocular membrane inside the eye. It has anti-inflammatory as well as rejuvenation properties. Even in this surgery, the fixation to the sclera is done by the use of sutures and glue adhesives. There is also no account of the recurrence of the surfer’s eye in this surgery.


 As the common causes of this disease are exposure to sun as well as wind, wearing sunglasses along with the side shields helps in preventing entry of air or excessive sunlight. Also, the usage of wide-brimmed hats with the use of artificial tears throughout the day helps in preventing their formation or prevent further growth of the surfer’s eye.

Athletes such as surfers or other water sports player should wear eye protection that helps in protecting the eyes by blocking the harmful UV rays from the water and these types of equipment are often used by snow sport athletes. For some people, there is a greater risk of surfer’s eye condition from their workplace itself .

Although the use of sunglasses and usage of hats in areas where there is great exposure to sunlight. Along with those, the use of eye lubricating agents or lubricants can help in reducing the symptoms of surfer’s eye disease. This condition is usually seen in both eyes. Not only that, the removal of the surfer’s eye condition with the help of surgery is only recommended when there is a risk of loss of vision for the patient. But, the major side or adverse effect is that after the surgery, there is almost 50 % chance of getting the symptoms back again in various cases.

The best way to treat your eyes is to visit your eye care professional and get your eyes checked regularly. He will be able to assess the best method of treatment for your eye ailment.Visit our website Eyemantra.To book an appointment call at +91-8851044355. Or mail us at other services include Retina SurgerySpecs Removal, Eye Socket and many more.

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