I just wanted to write to let you know that I understand how you feel! I also have a pterygium (although it might be a pinguecula...not 100% sure!). I am 29 and have had it since I was around 23. It just appeared one day. I've seen two doctors and they have both minimized it. They say it's not a big deal, but I'm sure they wouldn't want to live with it. I am finally seriously looking in to having it removed, possibly by the Gulani Vision Institute in Jacksonville, Florida.
I also work with children...none of my kids have ever commented on it, but colleagues do all of the time. It makes me so self-conscious. Most of the time people say, oh your eye's all red, do you have allergies? I usually just say yes, even though I've never had allergies in my life!
My advice is to just hang in there and find a doctor who takes this condition seriously. I've read articles from other sufferers saying 'we can put a man on the moon, do open heart surgery, but we can't treat this?' We definitely can, it's just a matter of finding the right doctor. If I were you, I'd start my search now...I wish I had done this sooner!
Good luck with everything,