Pterygium is a flesh-colored wedge or bump that develops on the translucent coating covering the white portion of the eye (conjunctiva). This growth can spread onto the cornea, causing impaired vision, pain, and irritation. Pterygium happens after prolonged and excessive exposure to UV light, wind, or dust and can affect your social or professional life. People with pterygium have been wrongfully accused of drinking on the job or using drugs because the wing-shaped tissue causes eye redness.
Our ophthalmologists at Laser Eye Center™ have treated countless patients with pterygium in Los Angeles. We specialize in pterygium removal and have a 30-year successful track record with over 500,000 procedures performed. Our laser eye clinic is the largest independent center in SoCal, and we take pride in offering various financing options, including in-house financing, because every patient deserves affordable access to excellent vision and healthy eyes.
Pterygium Treatment Options
Steroid drops, lubricating eye drops, or a prescription ointment may treat early pterygium with mild inflammation. However, these treatments are temporary. Most pterygium cases require surgical removal. Early pterygia are often asymptomatic, meaning patients experience little to no symptoms. Patients may develop burning sensations, itchiness, tearing, or dry eyes as the lesion spreads. The elevated tissue becomes increasingly visible, affecting your appearance and vision. Pterygium may alter the cornea surface enough to cause astigmatism and can infringe on your visual field by covering some of the corneal tissue.
Pterygium Removal with Auto-Graft Technique
Our eye surgeons at Laser Eye Center™ use the auto-graft technique to reduce the risk of recurrent pterygium. Recurrent pterygium occurs when another growth develops months or years after the removal procedure. This method harvests healthy conjunctival tissue, typically from under the upper eyelid, to replace the portions of tissue removed with the flesh-colored growth. One of our skilled eye surgeons adheres the transplanted tissue to the surgical area using a special fibrin glue. Fibrin adhesive reduces recovery time, inflammation, and discomfort while the eye heals.
The auto-graft technique is preferred because other methods have a higher (10%) recurrence rate. Removing the pterygium and leaving the cornea bare underneath has the highest risk of recurrence and causes the most discomfort. Another option is to remove the growth and cover the area with a biological material; it’s more comfortable for the patient but still not as effective as an auto-graft with the patient’s conjunctival tissue. Returning pterygium may be worse than before, making the new growth more challenging to treat and remove.
Auto-graft with conjunctival tissue is an advanced surgical approach that decreases the risk of pterygium regression or recurrence by providing protection from sunlight, wind, dust, and a smooth surface for a healthy tear film.
Recurrent Pterygium Risks
Young people and people of African or Hispanic descent are more likely to have recurrent pterygium. These growths typically affect one side of the cornea in one eye at a time. Patients with double pterygia on both sides of the cornea (that stretch from the temporal and nasal sides) and bilateral double pterygia in both eyes have the highest risk for recurrence. Our eye surgeons monitor pterygium patients closely to catch regrowth early on. Pterygia typically come back millimeter by millimeter, and the progress can be slowed with topical steroids to avoid a second removal procedure.
Research shows pterygium recurrence ranges from 5% to 40%, depending on the study, population, and technique. You can lower your risk of another pterygium by wearing UV-protective sunglasses and shielding your eyes from dust and wind.
Pterygium Removal Cost
The average cost of pterygium removal surgery and associated treatments was $3,825 in 2019 but may range from $2,600 to $5,000, depending on your location, the severity of the growth, and the surgical center. The technique used to remove pterygium also affects the price. Pterygium removal is necessary when the elevated tissue becomes burdensome, affecting your vision and quality of life. While removal is required to address your symptoms and restore your visual field, the procedure is still considered elective and, therefore, not covered by vision insurance in most cases.
Financing Pterygium Removal
Our goal is to make eye surgery accessible and affordable for everyone. Laser Eye Center™ accepts a wide range of payment options and partners with various financing institutions so patients with smaller budgets can still have pterygium removal when needed. We accept Wells Fargo Health Advantage, CareCredit, Alpheon, United Medical Credit, and other financing groups that offer low-interest and fixed payments for medical procedures.
Pterygium Removal with Funds from a Flexible Spending Account
Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) allow employees to set aside money from each paycheck to pay for medical costs. These accounts are exempt from all taxes, and money is transferred into them before tax. You can schedule deductions from each disbursement to cover various medical expenses or select an amount that would cover a necessary procedure, such as pterygium removal. Using your FSA funds to finance your pterygium surgery can lead to sizable savings.
In-House Financing for Pterygium Removal
Laser Eye Center™ is proud to offer patients our own line of credit. As one of California’s longest established and largest laser eye clinics, we have the unique opportunity to create a direct payment contract between our practice and the patient. There’s no need for bank approval or pulling your credit report, and we approve financing for nearly every patient, no matter their credit situation.
Patients must be permanent residents of the United States with a verifiable income to qualify for in-house financing. These contracts involve no interest for the duration of your plan, with set monthly payments that do not fluctuate.
Reasons to Remove Pterygium
We understand the cost of pterygium removal surgery may deter some patients. However, the procedure is necessary when the growth extends over the cornea or causes chronic inflammation, eye irritation, pterygium-induced astigmatism, or interferes with the fit of contact lenses. Patients may struggle with the appearance of the growth, which can make them look like they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Avoiding pterygium surgery can cause additional harm to your eye health and vision. Our comprehensive payment plans and financing options help patients afford pterygium removal for a safe, effective procedure that restores the function and appearance of the affected eye.
Contact Laser Eye Center™ About Pterygium Removal
If you struggle with symptoms of pterygium, contact Laser Eye Center™ in Los Angeles at (800) 805-2737 to schedule an eye exam and consultation. Our skilled ophthalmologists have decades of experience and have trained other eye surgeons in the area — we take pride in being the best of the best at the forefront of eye care research and treatment.
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