Pterygium is an eye condition that affects people who spend a great deal of time outdoors. It involves the growth of pink, fleshy tissue on the conjunctiva (white part of the eye), usually on the side toward the nose. The cause of pterygium is excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, dust, wind, sand, and humidity. Put those together and you see why the colloquial name for this condition is Surfer’s Eye.
Pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that can develop slowly over time and may not present a threat to the patient’s eyesight, unless it covers the pupil of the eye. Only if it interferes with the patient’s eyesight is surgery needed.
What is pterygium surgery?
This is the procedure Dr. Griffeth uses to remove the abnormal growth on the sclera. This surgery formerly resulted in a hole on the surface of the conjunctiva that made it likely to regrow pterygium again in the future. But now, a tissue graft taken from the underside of the eyelid corrects this problem.
The patient is under local anesthesia for this surgery — both light oral sedation and local anesthesia on the eye itself. Then the pterygium is excised along with a portion of the surrounding conjunctival tissue. Next the area where the growth was removed is then scraped with a blade and an abrasive burr to remove any remaining vascular attachments that may remain where the growth was. Then the graft is taken and placed on the excision site. It is placed with an adhesive mixture, usually thrombin and fibrinogen.
Pterygium surgery takes 30 to 45 minutes. Afterwards, the patient needs to wear a protective eye shield for the next two days. It will be four or five days before the patient can return to work and a few weeks before strenuous exercise or labor should be attempted.
If you think you may have pterygium growth, give us a call at Griffeth Vision. We’ll address the problem, possibly with surgery. Call us for a consultation at 435-843-8333.