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Pterygium

Pterygium Assessment & Management

Your Ophthalmologist will perform a comprehensive eye examination in order to diagnose and assess the severity of the pterygium. 

 

A pterygium typically starts growing near the corner of the eye. In some instances it can extend onto the cornea, towards the pupil. Both eyes can be affected. They are generally slow growing but a pterygium may grow large enough to interfere with sight and can cause other visual and ocular symptoms

The recommended treatment is tailored and depends on the size and extent of the pterygium, as well as the severity of any symptoms.  When there is a rapid growth of the pterygium or where vision is affected (i.e., in instances where the pterygium encroaches upon your line of sight or distorts the shape of your cornea), your Ophthalmologist may recommend surgical removal of the tissue.  If the pterygium is only mild or the symptoms less severe, conservatives measures may be recommended.

 

Topical eyedrops may be used to reduce redness and inflammation associated with a pterygium.  Where dryness or grittiness is encountered, artificial tears may be used to help keep the eye well lubricated and promote comfort.

 

Common Reasons for Surgical Removal of a Pterygium

In many patients, symptoms may be minimal or not apparent.  However, in some patients the below symptoms may occur and can warrant surgical intervention: 

Affect your normal vision particularly if the pterygium obscures your direct line of sight

Increase a patient's astigmatic error (curvature of the eye) causing blurry or distorted vision

Cause persistent irritation, grittiness, watery eyes and ocular discomfort

Cause the eye to look red in appearance

Cause contact lens interference

 

What is involved with Pterygium Surgery?

The latest advancement in pterygium surgery is sutureless pterygium excision and conjunctival autograft procedure. This technique is similar to the traditional approach except no stitches are used to hold the autograft in place.  Instead, modern tissue adhesives made of human clotting proteins are used. The adhesives dissolve in a week with no residues and promote faster recovery. This method is considered to be very safe.

 

During sutureless pterygium excision and conjunctival autograft surgery:

 

  • The pterygium is excised

  • The gap in the conjunctiva left by the removal of the pterygium is filled with a conjunctival tissue graft (transplant from the conjunctiva underneath the upper eyelid) 

  • This graft is held in place with the use of a special glue or with fine sutures

  • The purpose of an autograft is to cover the bare area and the graft acts as a barrier to recurrence, however, there is still a 5% chance of recurrence despite a perfect graft placement. 

 

Recovery After Pterygium Surgery

Following surgery:

 

  • You may experience soreness and irritation in your eye for the first 24 hours

  • The eye may appear red but this typically resolves over a few weeks

  • You will be required to use eye drops for a short period of time

  • In order to reduce the risk of recurrence, you will need to wear sunglasses when you are outdoors.

 

What are the Risks Associated with Pterygium Surgery?

Complications such as bleeding, infection and decreased vision may rarely occur following pterygium surgery.  Discuss with your Ophthalmologist at Spectrum Eyecare about the possible benefits and risks associated with the treatment for pterygium.

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