h A pterygium is a fleshy growth that normally extends from the inner corner of the eye towards the clear window of the eye (the cornea). A pterygium is caused by exposure to sun, wind and dust and therefore tends to occur in people who spend a lot of time outdoors. The best way to guard against a pterygium is to wear UV filtering sunglasses and avoid exposure to sun, wind and dust.  A pterygium can cause irritation in the eye (such as grittiness and burning) when the pterygium becomes red and inflamed or causes dryness in the eye.  These symptoms can be managed with drops.The only treatment for a pterygium is surgical removal. The operation involves excision of the abnormal tissue and covering the defect with healthy tissue. The surgery is normally performed under local anaesthetic. There is a 10% chance that the pterygium could re-grow. Sometimes radiation treatment is used to reduce the chance of regrowth.

The surgery is painless but for several weeks afterwards it is common for the eye to be red, painful, watery, light sensitive and blurred. If the eye is red or uncomfortable prior to surgery, it is possible that these symptoms may persist after surgery, even indefinitely. Surgical removal can be considered if the pterygium is :-

  • persistently inflamed
  • affecting the vision
  • growing rapidly
  • cosmetically unacceptable

The eye will be padded after surgery so you require someone to drive you home. The pad can be removed the morning after surgery. The first follow up visit is normally 2 weeks after surgery.
Long term, it is important to protect your eyes from sun, wind and dust as much as possible to reduce the chance of regrowth or recurrence of the symptoms.