Pterygium and Surgery

Pterygiums


What is a pterygium?
A pterygium also called ‘surfers eye’ is a wedge-shaped fibrovascular growth of the conjunctiva or the mucus membrane which covers the white part of the eye and extends to the cornea. Pterygia are benign lesions that can be found on either side of the cornea. A pterygium doesn’t normally cause problems nor require any treatment but may be removed due to it interfering with your vision.

It is thought that prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light like the sun, dry eyes and irritants such as the dust and wind may contribute to the formation of pterygia. Pterygia are more often seen in people from tropical climates but can be found in others as well.

What are the symptoms related to pterygium?
Pterygia are often asymptomatic, and many do not require immediate treatment. However, some pterygia become red and inflamed from time to time. Large or thick pterygia may bother some people due to a persistent foreign body sensation in the eye. At times the pterygium symptoms are not experienced, but if they are experienced, they may include:

  • Eye inflammation and redness
  • Gritty feeling in the eye
  • Feeling like there is an object in your eye
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Obscured vision due to the pterygium encroaching across the pupil

How is pterygium treated?
Pterygium treatment depends largely on the size and extent of the pterygium, as well as its tendency for recurrent inflammation. Evaluation by an ophthalmologist will help determine the optimal treatment in each case. If a pterygium is small but becomes intermittently inflamed, your ophthalmologist may recommend a trial of a mild steroid eye drops during acute inflammatory flares. If these drops are recommended, you should remain under the care of your ophthalmologist to ensure that you do not develop side effects from the use of these medications. In some cases, your ophthalmologist may recommend surgical removal of the tissue.

Dr Beatty may recommend that you undergo surgery to remove the pterygium when the eye drops don’t provide any relief. This may also be the case if the pterygium results in vision loss or astigmatism, which results in blurry vision.

 

Pterygium Surgery


What is pterygium surgery?
Pterygium surgery is a procedure done to remove noncancerous conjunctiva growths, called pterygia, which develop in the eye. The conjunctiva is the transparent tissue that is covering the white part of the eye. The overgrowth of the conjunctiva tissue may cover the cornea, which will result in the interference of your vision.

How is pterygium surgery done?
During the pterygium surgery, the ophthalmologist will use local or general anaesthesia and numb your eyes and prevent you from feeling any discomfort during the pterygium surgery. He will then proceed with cleaning the surrounding areas of the eye so that he can remove the pterygium along with some associated conjunctiva tissue. The pterygium will then be replaced with a graft from underneath the eyelid. The graft is then attached with a special glue, called tisseel glue.

No-stitch Pterygium/Autograft Surgery:
During an autograft surgery, the abnormal tissue is removed, and the defect that remains is closed with tissue from underneath the eyelid. This is then glued in place with a modern tissue adhesive called tisseel. After about a week the adhesive dissolves with no residue at all. Advantages of this technique are:

  • Time spent in theatre is between 10-15 minutes shorter per eye.
  • Post-operative pain and recovery are improved.
  • (Most important) Post-operative results are better than previous techniques with the recurrence less than 2% (with routine techniques it is 10-15%)

What to expect after pterygium surgery?
After the pterygium surgery, the ophthalmologist will place an eye patch or pad over your eye for comfort and prevention of infections. Avoid rubbing your eyes to avoid dislodging the attached tissue. Your eye may take a couple of weeks to a couple of months for your eye to heal completely.

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