Pterygium Surgery

Repair your eyes in Tooele, UT

What is Pterygium?

Pterygium is an eye condition that commonly affects people who are constantly exposed to the outdoor environment. The growth of a pink and fleshy tissue on the conjunctiva, or the white part of the eye is the most predominant identifying factor of this condition, and often grows on the side of the sclera closest to the nose. The prevalent cause of this condition is believed to be excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, dust, wind, sand, and humidity, which is the reason why this condition is also referred to as Surfers Eye. When the patient is exposed to these irritants on a regular basis, it triggers the degeneration of collagen in the affected area of the eye and this, in turn, brings about the formation of the fibrovascular lesions. Pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that may develop slowly over time and does not pose any serious threat to the patient’s vision unless it covers the pupils of the eyes. Mostly, patients report a sensation similar to having a foreign object inside the eye. Normally, pterygium does not require any sort of special treatment but in case the irritation escalates, doctors recommend the use of vasoconstrictors and even lubricating eye drops or ointments. For more serious cases, like when the lesion already begins to interfere with the patient’s vision, Pterygium surgery may become necessary to have it removed surgically.

What is Pterygium surgery?

Pterygium surgery is the procedure that is used by doctors to remove the abnormal growth of tissue on the cornea and sclera of the eyes. It is not a complicated procedure and does not require any special equipment, but it is known to have produced a very high success rate over the years. With the latest advancements in pterygium surgery, the risk of the pterygia recurring is very low because of the conjunctival autograft that fills in the gap that is left on the surface of the conjunctival tissue, thereby eliminating the probability of regrowth.

What happens during pterygium surgery?

In previous years, pterygium surgery resulted in a hole on the surface of the conjunctiva that yielded a very high possibility of pterygium regrowth. With today’s newer techniques, this common complication has been addressed as doctors have found an effective way to fill in the hole left on the conjunctiva. Using a tissue graft that is obtained from the underside of the eyelid, the gap on the surface of the eye can be covered to prevent the regrowth of the pterygia.

  1. At the beginning of the surgery, the patient will be lightly sedated to minimize any discomfort during the procedure. The indicated eye will also be numbed completely using local anesthesia.
  2. The pterygium will be excised along with a portion of the surrounding conjunctival tissue using Westcott scissors and corneal forceps.
  3. The area from where the pterygium was avulsed will be scraped with a blade, after which an abrasive burr will be used to remove any vascular attachments that may still be left in the conjunctival surface.
  4. Doctors will then harvest a thin graft of conjunctival tissue from the area spanning the superior conjunctiva to the limbus, or the junction in between the sclera and the cornea. Previously, when the pterygium excision site was left uncovered, there used to be a 50% chance that the condition would recur. But nowadays, the use of a conjunctival graft has been shown to reduce the recurrence of pterygium by as much as 95%.
  5. The graft will be laid against the excision site and will be held in place with the use of an adhesive mixture, usually thrombin and fibrinogen. The graft will be spread across the entire excision site to approximate the edges.
  6. Finally, any excess conjunctival graft tissue will be trimmed off.

What happens after pterygium surgery?

Pterygium surgery will take between 30 to 45 minutes to complete, after which the patient will be asked to wear an eye patch to protect the eye. This protective eye shield is recommended to be used for until two days after the surgery, but patients will only be able to return to their daily activities after a few more days when the wounds have healed a little bit more. Until then, strenuous physical activities are discouraged and the patient will also be put under a prescribed medication regimen. Usually, eye drops containing steroids will be prescribed for application for several weeks following the surgery to reduce inflammation and also to help prevent the regrowth of the pterygia. Over the next few weeks, the eye from where the pterygium was removed will gradually return to its normal appearance, with significantly reduced redness, and with very little to no irritation.

Are there any risks with pterygium surgery?

Some complications that may arise from pterygium surgery include corneal scarring or perforation. There is also a risk for the patient to develop astigmatism after the removal of the pterygium.