A pterygium is a growth of tissue from the white (conjunctiva) of the eye onto the clear cornea in the front of the eye. They can occur on either side of either eye.
Pterygia are more common in sunny climates and in the 20-40 age group. Scientists do not know what causes pterygia to develop. However, since people who have pterygia usually have spent a significant time outdoors, many doctors believe ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun may be a factor. In areas where sunlight is strong, wearing protective eyeglasses, sunglasses, and/or hats with brims is suggested.
While some studies report a higher prevalence of pterygia in men than in women, this may reflect different rates of exposure to UV light.
Although the growths are harmless when small, they can grow larger and cause decreased vision, pain, irritation, redness and scarring. In addition, they can be cosmetically unacceptable to many patients.
Pterygium surgery in the past consisted of simple excision. This led to high rates of recurrence (approximately 50%). We perform several grafting techniques which significantly improve the chances of long term success of the procedure, with only around 10-15% of patients estimated to have a recurrence. In addition, recovery time and discomfort are less compared to simple excisions.
If you have a pterygium and it is growing, irritating your eye , or it is affecting your vision you may benefit from this type of surgery.
To learn more you can schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience to discuss your options for treatment or removal. When surgery is medically justified it can usually be billed to your health insurance.
For more information see www.nei.nih.gov/health/cornealdisease/#l