A pterygium is a common raised fleshy growth of scar tissue on the surface of the eye. The growth starts on the inner or outer white of the eye and grows onto the cornea toward the center of the eye. Typically, these growths are not cancerous, but a degenerative and inflammatory reaction to sun exposure, wind, dust, and other foreign body exposure. In its early stages, a pterygium is usually asymptomatic, however, when inflamed it can cause a formed body sensation, and burning. As Pterygium grow, they can cause chronic redness and discomfort in the eye, and eventually decrease vision. If the condition progresses too far, scar tissue may permanently affect vision even after surgery.
When Pterygium are small and not inflamed, they may be monitored without treatment. However, sunglasses should be worn consistently outside to minimize the stimulating effects of ultraviolet radiation. Eyedrops may be prescribed to help control inflammation and symptoms in some cases. When Pterygium continue to grow and become significant or chronically inflamed, pterygium surgery may be recommended. Pterygium surgery is often covered by medical insurance but may be considered as a self-pay procedure for cosmetic reasons when the growth is smaller. Pterygium surgery is performed in the operating room under sedation and takes about 20 mins. Typically, only one eye is operated on at a time.
The eye is quite red, and pain is moderate during the first week or two postoperatively. Recurrence of pterygium used to be common with older surgical techniques but has now been reduced to 10-20% with newer treatments. Unfortunately, pterygium surgery is not as simple as cutting the growth out of your conjunctiva and sewing the borders of the remaining gap closed, because this approach is associated with an 80 percent chance of the pterygium growing back. In fact, 97 percent of regrowth occurs in the first year following surgical removal of a pterygium.