FRIDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Like so many people, Debra
Greene spent much of her childhood out in the sunshine.
Growing up in sunny South Carolina, she ran and played and later
helped out with the family gardening. And she spent plenty of hours
sunbathing, "lying in the warmth of the sun in the summertime," she
Greene, now 48 and living in Gaithersburg, Md., didn't know that
all that time in the sun as a child would eventually result in her
needing surgery for ultraviolet damage to her eye.
But about six years ago, Greene noticed that a tiny part of the
inside corner of her right eye had become filmy and discolored.
"There was a growth that was covering part of my eye," she
It was a little unsightly, she said, but it wasn't affecting her
vision so she wasn't overly worried about it at the time. As the
years passed, the tiny spot became larger. "It was a progressive
thing," she said. "I didn't really notice it. It was getting
bigger, and it grew progressively."
And then, about two years ago, she noticed that the spot had
grown noticeably larger -- large enough that others could casually
"It was visible. You could see it," Greene said. "It looked like a clear thin film over your eyes. It didn't really affect my vision, but it was worrisome when I saw it in the mirror. It was a problem, and I knew that I had to take care of it."
Greene went to an ophthalmologist, who told her she had
developed a pterygium, a non-cancerous growth that forms on the
clear, thin tissue that covers the white part of the eye.
Researchers believe that these growths are caused in part by
long-term exposure to the ultraviolet rays contained in sunlight.
If left alone, they eventually can grow large enough to cover the
cornea and impair sight.
"I did a lot of research, and I thought I knew what it was so I wasn't worried about losing my sight anytime soon because of it," Greene said. "But it was really unsightly."
Her ophthalmologist referred her to an eye surgeon. Within three
months, she'd undergone surgery to have the pterygium removed from
her right eye.
"It was not painful at all," Greene said. "I had to wear a patch after the initial surgery, for about one day. And then there were follow-up trips." The eye healed perfectly, and she says you'd never know she'd once had a strange growth in that eye.
"It's fine today," she said. "No problem. I had it taken care of."
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