Pterygium is a common anterior segment disorder seen in dry and dusty environments. Patients note a pale pink, wedge shaped growth from the white part of the eye onto the cornea. It occurs most commonly at the inner corner of the eye, but may also occur at the outer corner.
What is a pterygium?
Like our skin, the surface of the eye is susceptible to damage from sun. In some individuals this triggers a process known as ‘elastosis’ within one of the tissue layers on the surface of the eye. As a consequence, the tissue grown slowly onto the cornea.
Are pterygiums dangerous?
In general, pterygiums are not dangerous, though if large, they may degrade vision, particularly if they grow close to the visual axis.
More often, pterygiums cause irritation, and may become red, sore and inflamed. Some people are bothered by the appearance of their pterygium, which may prompt them to seek treatment.
What treatments are available for pterygium?
Many pterygiums require no treatment other than observation and use of sunglasses to prevent further sun damage.
If irritation is the problem, regular lubrication may provide symptomatic relief. In the event of inflammation, a short course of topical steroids will often symptoms.
Often when simple measures fail to control symptoms, when patients are unhappy with the appearance or when a pterygium is large, surgery is required.
Surgery involved removing the pterygium, excising a larger area of tissue around the pterygium site and closing the defect with a conjunctival graft to prevent regrowth. At our practice, pterygium surgery is performed by Dr Giles, Dr Heery and Dr Steele.