An abnormal growth of scar tissue and blood vessels onto the clear window of the eye

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What is a pterygium?

A pterygium is an overgrowth of abnormal scar tissue and blood vessels on the white of the eye, and can extend over the cornea, the eye’s clear front window. Pterygia grow in response to sunlight.

If the pterygium is small, it requires little to no treatment and should be monitored by a health care professional. However, surgery is required when the pterygium is distorting your vision, large in size, continues to grow, or is causing recurrent irritation that requires ongoing use of prescribed medication. Surgery might also be considered for cosmetic reasons.

The most common surgical technique removes the pterygium and then uses a portion of your conjunctiva - the membrane that covers the white of the eye - to fill the empty space. This procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes under local anaesthetic. You may experience some discomfort and double vision once the anesthesia wears off.

Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home, as your eye may be sore. You will usually be prescribed eye drops to ease any discomfort and decrease inflammation. You may also need to wear an eye patch for a couple of days to protect your eye as it heals. Usually you can return to normal activities after a few days, but avoid strenuous activity, swimming and rubbing your eye until it has healed.

Attending follow up appointments with your eye care professional is essential to ensure proper healing and visual recovery. Ultimately, recovery varies from person to person. Ask us if you have any questions about pterygium surgery.

Do you have a pterygium?