What are pterygia?
A pterygium is a growth that can occur on the conjunctiva, which is the tissue lining the eyelids and eyeball.
What are the symptoms?
Some common symptoms include red, itchy and burning eyes. Patients often feel as though there is something stuck in the eye, and in cases where the growth covers the pupil, one may experience blurred vision.
What causes pterygia?
Pterygia are most often caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, such as the sun, as well as irritants like dust and wind. These irritants often hinder the production of fluid on the outside of the eye, causing severe dryness.
How can it be treated?
In many cases, pterygia can be treated with prescription eye drops, but in cases where the growth causes loss of vision or extreme discomfort, it may be surgically removed.
During pterygium removal surgery, your surgeon will carefully peel away the growth before placing a tissue graft over the removal site. The tissue graft is typically made from tissue from the upper eyelid and is secured in place with tissue glue or very small stitches.
The procedure is relatively simple, and generally takes around 45 minutes to complete. After the surgery, you will need to wear an eye patch for a few days, and your doctor may prescribe eye drops.
It is quite common to feel some discomfort for about a week after the surgery, and your eyes may look red for up to six weeks. It is important to monitor the site of surgery to check that the pterygium does not reappear. While it is possible for the growth to return, it is quite unlikely, and the removal procedure usually has very effective results.
After the surgery, it is important to wear sunglasses every day in order to protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays and other irritants like dust and wind. You may also need to use eye drops on a regular basis to prevent dryness in the long term.