A pterygium is a non-cancerous growth of the conjunctiva that extends from the inner corner of the eye to the center of the eye. One or both eyes may be involved. A pterygium can vary in appearance. It can range from a small tissue mass to a large, red, very noticeable growth. Because a pterygium varies in appearance, it may be one of many different colors. It can also appear vascular or avascular.
Pterygium is more common in people with frequent or prolonged outdoor exposure to sunlight, wind, dust, and dryness. Farmers, fishermen, and people living near the equator are often affected. Pterygium is rare in children.
Symptoms of Pterygium
- Decreased vision
- Foreign body sensation
Treatment for Pterygium
When a pterygium becomes red and irritated, topical eye drops or ointments may be used to help reduce the inflammation. If the pterygium is large enough to threaten sight, if it is growing, or if it is just unsightly, it can be removed surgically. No-stitch surgery is possible thanks to modern tissue adhesive. Fibrin tissue adhesive allows the surgeon to secure an autograft in a short amount of time. Once the abnormal tissue is removed, a thin graft of normal tissue is used to replace the damaged area. A pterygium can return after is has been removed, but the recurrence rates using advanced surgery techniques that use both fibrin tissue adhesive and amniotic membrane transplantation are as low as 1%.
Preventing a Pterygium
If you spend a lot of time outside, then you’re exposed to many of the risk factors. However, simply protecting the eyes from ultraviolet light and keeping the eyes moisturized with over-the-counter preservative-free eye lubricating drops may help prevent this condition.
If you feel you have symptoms like those listed above, then schedule an appointment with us at Texas Eye and Laser Center.