What is Pterygium?
Pterygium is an elevated growth on the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a clear mucous membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids serving to lubricate the eye, and to prevent microbes from entering the eye. Patients who have Pterygium commonly experience eye irritation, discoloration, and excessive tearing. Pterygium is most commonly attributed to sun exposure, and seems to be most prevalent in people who live in tropical climates or in people that spend significant amounts of time exposed to sunlight.
For some people the growth remains inactive, but for others a Pterygium has the potential to distort vision by altering the surface of the cornea, leading to astigmatism. Pterygiums are fed by tiny capillaries that provide blood to the tissue, leading to growth and reduced vision. In the event that the Pterygium starts to invade the central cornea, it is surgically removed.
Pterygium that causes mild inflammation can usually be treated with steroid drops, eye drops, or a prescribed ointment. Once the irritation associated with this condition interferes with vision, the Pterygium must be removed. The Pterygium surgery lasts approximately thirty minutes and has a recovery time of only a couple days. During the procedure, the Pterygium is extracted along with the eye tissue that covers the conjunctiva. The doctor places a graft over the removed tissue and fixes it in place with medical adhesive. Unfortunately the recurrence of Pterygium is a possibility, but the risk can be greatly diminished by protecting your eyes from the sun, since UV rays have been identified as a major factor in the development of this condition. Eye protection from dust and wind is also strongly recommended to avoid future irritation.