Pterygia and Pterodactyls

A pterygium is a segment of bulbar conjunctiva that grows toward the cornea and extends beyond the limbus onto the corneal epithelium.  The etymology of pterygium comes from the Greek pterygion meaning “wing.”


Small pterygia may be followed, but larger and more significant ones may cause astigmatism, decreased vision, and irritation, at which point excision of the tissue may be considered.

Another word with the same Greek root is pterodactyl, meaning “winged finger.”  Below is a Civil War era photo — widely considered to be a hoax — depicting soldiers and the carcass of a pterodactyl: