Suffering with a pterygium? It may be time for surgical removal
What is pterygium?
If you have a pinkish triangular (wedge-shaped) piece of tissue growing across the surface of your eye, you may have a pterygium (pronounced ter–ig–ee–um). Pterygia are thought to develop from long-term sun exposure and often run in families. They are not cancerous and can be safely left alone. Nonetheless, Dr Gupta sends all excised pterygia for pathology assessment to make sure cancer cells are not missed.
Although pterygium are usually harmless, the inflamed conjunctiva (layer of tissue that coats the eye) can be red and thick making your eye feel dry and irritated. What’s more, cosmetically speaking, they can be quite obvious and may make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. In advanced cases, pterygium can grow large enough to interfere with vision by distorting the shape of the eye, covering the cornea and growing over the pupil.
Am I suitable for pterygium surgery?
Surgical removal of pterygium is recommended when:
- Lubricant eye drops do not help with persistent redness, dryness or discomfort.
- Sight is deteriorated by distortion (astigmatism) or pterygium growth over the pupil.
- Cosmetic reasons.
About pterygium surgery
Pterygium removal is painless and performed in consulting rooms or day surgery under a local anaesthetic. During the procedure, the pterygium is gently removed and the area repaired using a healthy piece of conjunctival tissue (graft). After surgery, depending on your work environment, it’s usually recommended to take 4-5 days off work.