What is a pterygium?
A pterygium is a growth that extends from the white of the eye (the conjunctiva) onto the clear cornea. Most pterygia are caused by sun damage, and are not cancerous. The ptreygium can be removed to reduce irritation and improve vision. It must be removed if it grows too close to the pupil.
Pterygium surgery is performed as an outpatient under local or general anesthesia. The pterygium is removed from the surface of the eye extending back about 6 millimeters onto the white of the eye. In most circumstances, a piece of tissue is borrowed from the upper part of the eyeball to create a patch. The donor site heals quickly and without causing long term injury to the eye. The patch graft is necessary to prevent recurrence of the pterygium. If the tissue excision site is left bare, more that 98% of the time the growth will return. The graft is attached using suture or tissue adhesive.
The surgical procedure for pterygium removal is not complicated, but the most important aspect is the post-operative experience. The eye is designed by nature to be very sensitive, and pterygium surgery requires extensive manipulation on the surface of the eye. Patients often experience foreign body sensation, tearing and light sensitivity for up to two weeks. Some patients have almost no discomfort while others are acutely aware of their eye. Adequate pain medication is provided if necessary. Additionally, the eye will remain red for about two months after surgery. Patients will be required to take a steroid drop for 6-8 weeks. Patients are very pleased with the surgical outcome and appearance, it does take time for the eye to heal completely.
The doctors at Manchester Ophthalmology have extensive experience with pterygia surgery. If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about pterygium treatment, please contact our office online here, or by dialing 860-649-5117.