pterygium is a pinkish,
triangular-shaped tissue growth on
the cornea. Some pterygia grow slowly
throughout a person's life, while
others stop growing after a certain
point. A pterygium rarely grows so
large that it begins to cover the
pupil of the eye.
usually has no symptoms, and many do not
require treatment. However, some pterygium
become red and inflamed from time to time.
Large or thick pterygium may be more irritating
than painful. Occasionally, large pterygium
will begin to change the shape of the cornea
and cause vision changes (astigmatism).
are more common in sunny climates and in
the 20-40 age group. Scientists do not know
what causes pterygia to develop. However,
since people who have pterygia usually have
spent a significant time outdoors, many
doctors believe ultraviolet (UV) light from
the sun may be a factor. In areas where
sunlight is strong, wearing protective eyeglasses,
sunglasses, and/or hats with brims is suggested.
While some studies report a higher prevalence
of pterygia in men than in women, this may
reflect different rates of exposure to UV
a pterygium is visible, many people want
to have it removed for cosmetic reasons.
It is usually not too noticeable unless
it becomes red and swollen from dust or
air pollutants. Surgery to remove a pterygium
is not recommended unless it affects vision.
If a pterygium is surgically removed, it
may grow back, particularly if the patient
is less than 40 years of age. Lubricants
can reduce the redness and provide relief
from the chronic. A pterygium is a raised
wedge-shaped growth that occurs on the surface
of the eye. It is thought to be related
to increased exposure to ultra-violet (UV)
light, as it is more common in people who
have lived in sunny areas.
starts as an area of redness and thickening
on the conjunctiva, usually on the inner
aspect of the white of the eye. In some
cases, the pterygium may extend across onto
the cornea, which is the clear front window
of the eye. If the pterygium grows towards
the middle of the cornea, it should be surgically
can cause a number of problems. They may
be easily visible and cause cosmetic embarrassment.
They often become sore, red, and gritty,
especially with wind, smoke or dust. Eventually
the pterygium may interfere with the vision
either by distorting the cornea or by extending
over the pupil.
can a pterygium be treated?
The comfort of a pterygium may be improved
by using eye drops such as artificial tear
drops or decongestant drops. These often
help with the redness of the eye as well.
Some pterygia, which continue to cause problems,
may require surgical removal.
surgery, the pterygium is removed and a
small piece of the conjunctiva, which is
the thin transparent skin that covers the
white of the eye, is placed into this site
from under the upper lid. The surgery is
performed under local anaesthetic. There
should be no pain during the surgery, which
takes approximately half an hour. Following
the procedure, a prescription is given for
eye ointment or eye drops and analgesic
tablets. For approximately 1-2 weeks following
surgery, getting water, dust or dirt in
the eye should be avoided.
the pterygium grow back?
of the main problems with the removal of
a pterygium is that re-growth may occur,
although this happens in fewer than 1% with
newer surgical techniques. To reduce the
risk of recurrence, you should try to reduce
exposure to ultra-violet light following
surgery by wearing sunglasses or a hat when
outdoors. Your surgeon may advise you not
to have the surgery performed over the summer
months for this reason.