What is a pterygium?

A pterygium is a benign or non-cancerous overgrowth of the conjunctiva, which is a clear, thin layer that covers the white part of the eye (sclera). A pterygium may occur in one or both eyes.

What are the symptoms of pterygium?

The impact of a pterygium may cause extreme eye discomfort including,

  • Burning
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Tearing
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Blurred vision (astigmatism)

If the growth becomes large enough, it may begin to inhibit vision.

What can cause pterygium?

The cause of pterygium is not known, but it occurs more commonly in people who spend time outdoors with frequent or excessive sun exposure. People who spend considerable time in the sun such as farmers, fishermen and people living near the equator are more likely to develop pterygium.

How can a pterygium be assessed?

  • Your ophthalmologist will perform a comprehensive eye examination in order to diagnose and assess the severity of the pterygium.
  • Your treatment depends on the size and extent of the pterygium.
  • When there is rapid growth of the pterygium or vision is threatened, your ophthalmologist may recommend surgical removal of the tissue.

What is the best treatment for pterygium?

The latest advancement in pterygium surgery is “Sutureless Pterygium Excision and Conjunctival Autograft”.

During the procedure:

  • The pterygium is excised
  • The gap in the conjunctiva left by the removal of the pterygium is filled with a conjunctival tissue graft. The graft is held in place with a special glue
  • This graft acts as a barrier to recurrence, however there is still a 5% chance of recurrence despite a perfect graft placement

Recovery After Pterygium Surgery

Following surgery:

  • You may have soreness and irritation in your eye for the first 24 hours
  • You will need to use eye drops for several months
  • You may have redness of the eye which usually resolves over a few weeks
  • You can return to your normal activities within 1 or 2 weeks after surgery

In order to reduce the risk of recurrence, you will need to wear sunglasses all the time when you are outdoor.

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