Pterygium is a wing-like growth that occurs on the conjunctiva. It usually does not require any treatment. Surgery is indicated if it affects the vision, causes inflammation or increases in size.

What is a Pterygium?

Pterygium is wing-like fleshy tissue that occurs on the conjunctiva (the clear covering of the eye), which extends across the cornea. The word “pterygium” is derived from the Greek word, pteryx , meaning wing.

A related condition, pinguecula is a yellowish raised growth on the conjunctiva usually occurring on the side of your eye towards the nose.

Both pinguecula and pterygium are related to prolonged UV exposure.

What are the symptoms of Pterygium?

In the early stages, there can be no symptoms with pterygium. Some patients can experience symptoms of redness, irritation, foreign body sensation or dry eyes. As the pterygium increases in size, it can affect the vision by causing astigmatism (distortion of the corneal shape) or extending across the pupil.

What is the treatment for Pterygium?

If the pterygium is small and causing no or minimal symptoms, no treatment is needed. Lubricating drops and/or gel can be used to alleviate symptoms of irritation.

Pterygium needs to be treated with pterygium surgery only if it causes significant discomfort, gets inflamed or increases in size and affects the vision.

How is Pterygium Surgery performed?

Pterygium surgery is performed under local anaesthesia in a day surgery. The pterygium is removed from the eye and a conjunctival graft is placed in the exposed site. The graft is taken from underneath the upper eyelid which is unaffected by sun exposure. The graft is held in place with tissue glue and absorbable sutures.

What happens after Pterygium Surgery? 

The eye will be painful, gritty and sore for a few days after the operation. The vision may be blurry as the cornea heals over. You can take analgesics for the same. You will be given eye drops which you will need to use for at least 1 month. Most patients prefer to take 5-7 days off work following the surgery.

All surgical procedures carry some risk. Please discuss with your doctor at Northern Eye Specialists to find out if the pterygium surgery is appropriate for you.

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