A pterygium is a fleshy triangular tissue that grows over the cornea, usually on the inner corner of the eye. Sometimes, it grows big enough that it interferes with vision. As the pterygium develops, it may alter the shape of the cornea, causing astigmatism.
Treatment for a pterygium will vary depending on how much it has grown. If it is small and not too noticeable then an ophthalmologist may recommend eye drops such as lubricants or mild steroids which can help with redness, swelling and irritation. Pterygia can be removed for cosmetic reasons or if the eye doctor thinks they have grown too large. It is a small procedure not normally lasting longer than 30 minutes but still has risks and complications attached, such as inducing an astigmatism, along with the same risks and complications of any eye surgery. Once a pterygium has been removed they often do grow back, but an eye doctor will usually prescribe steroid eye drops to reduce swelling and try to stop any regrowth. They will also strongly recommend wearing protective sunglasses, as detailed above, to help stop regrowth occurring.
Symptoms of a pterygium
Tissue growing over the eye
Causes of a pterygium
- The exact cause of pterygium isn’t known, but it’s thought to be linked to:
- Long-term exposure to sunlight
- Dry, dusty conditions
Surgery for excision of pterygium is usually performed in an outpatient setting under local or topical anesthesia with sedation, if necessary.
Postoperatively, the eye is generally patched overnight, and it is treated subsequently with topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drops and/or ointments.