Surfer's Eye: blame it on the sun, sand, wind and salt | Photo:

We call it surfer's eye and red eye, but the scientific jargon is pterygium. So, what are the causes, symptoms and treatments for a fairly common problem in surfing?

Blame it on the elements. Sun, sand, wind and salt are responsible for surfer's eye. And although the exact cause is still unknown, scientists believe the problem is twice as likely to occur in men than in women.

Itchiness, irritation, eye redness, inflammation, burning and tearing are the most commons symptoms of pterygium. In the worst cases, patients report vision problems that may lead to surgery.

Surfers who spend a lot of time in the water, exposed to long hours of sun, will start feeling irritation in one or both eyes. Lubricating eye drops will soothe the inflammation. Hats, sunglasses and shade will also solve mild cases.

Curiously, surfer's eye usually appears on the side of the eye closer to the nose, which seems to prove that the benign growth of the conjunctiva is the result of sun's rays passing laterally through the cornea.

Learn what are the most common diseases in surfing. Get "Sick Surfers Ask the Surf Docs & Dr. Geoff."

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