What is a Pterygium?

Pterygium is a condition in which there is growth of abnormal tissue from the white part of the eye (the sclera) onto the clear part of the eye (cornea). It usually occurs on the inner aspect of the eye, and seems to be related to exposure to UV light.

A pterygium can manifest in a number of ways. It can cause irritation, redness, a poor cosmetic appearance, and in severe cases, visual disturbance due to growth across the cornea.

How is Pterygium treated?

Conservative treatment measures such as lubricant drops can be tried initially, however if the pterygium is still symptomatic, surgery is required. This is performed under local anaesthetic. The pterygium is removed, and a graft of normal tissue from under the top eyelid is put into its place. This greatly reduces the chance of the pterygium growing back.

Pterygium surgery with a graft has a success rate of up to 90%, though there is a recovery period of up to 2 months, where the eye may be red or feel gritty. This is usually worse straight after the operation, and improves with time and the use of post-operative eye drops.