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Pterygium

Pterygium Surgery in Brisbane, Booval, Wynnum, & Aspley

Our geographical region is known for our warm, sunny climate and great love of the outdoors. Unfortunately, one downside of living in a sunny climate is that pterygia, which are unsightly eye growths, are believed to be caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet light.

As a full-service ophthalmology practice, The Eye Health Centre has helped many patients who have developed pterygia. We can alleviate the discomfort or irritation caused by these growths and, if appropriate, remove pterygia from the ocular surface.

Pterygium Surgery Diagram

What Is a Pterygium?

A pterygium is a wing- or wedge-shaped growth of tissue that develops on the white part of the eye. It is non-cancerous and does not develop into cancer. A pterygium typically originates in the inner corner of the eye, near the side of the nose, and gradually enlarges over the cornea (the clear surface of the eye).

In addition to being a cosmetic blemish, a pterygium can cause eye irritation and make it difficult to focus or concentrate on visual tasks for long periods of time. Because the growth is raised, it may produce an unrelenting “foreign body” sensation, as if something is stuck in your eye. If left untreated, a pterygium can become so big that it obscures your vision.

Who Can Develop a Pterygium?

Pterygium Surgery in Brisbane, Booval, Wynnum, & AspleyPterygia are most common in patients in their 20s and 30s. Environmental factors — most notably prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light and windy or dusty environments — are believed to play a role in the development of pterygia. The growths are sometimes referred to as “surfer’s eye,” since they are so common in individuals who spend a lot of time outdoors.

Not all pterygia need to be removed. In some cases, using artificial lubricants restores moisture and hydration to the ocular surface and reduces irritation.

Pterygium Removal Surgery Details

If you have developed a large or unsightly pterygium, or if the growth is causing persistent eye irritation, you may opt to have it removed. Pterygium is performed on an outpatient basis with local anesthetic, so you will not feel anything during the procedure.

During pterygium removal, our eye doctors cut around the growth and remove the tissue; then, we attach a free tissue graft in the place where the growth was removed. The graft is taken from the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers part of the front surface of the eye. With this approach, we not only achieve a good cosmetic result but also prevent the pterygium from growing back. If not “patched” with a graft of tissue, the rate of recurrence is around 50 percent. But with our technique, the regrowth rate is closer to zero.

After pterygium removal, we suggest you protect your eyes from ultraviolet light as well as windy or dusty environments.

How to Schedule a Consultation

If you have developed an unsightly growth on the surface of your eyes that causes irritation or interferes with your vision, you should have it checked out by our eye doctors. If it is a pterygium, we can discuss your treatment options and explain more about surgery to remove the growth. To request an appointment with our team, please call or email The Eye Health Centre today.