Medical Information - Pterygium

A pterygium is a wedge-shaped growth of thickened tissue that covers the white part of the eye. A pterygium typically starts near the inside corner of the eye. It often extends onto the cornea, toward the pupil.

Composed of conjunctival scar tissue, a pterygium may grow large enough to interfere with sight.

A pterygium is not a cancer and will not usually develop into a cancer.

Reasons for Surgical Removal include:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Burning and discomfort.
  • Astigmatism.
  • Redness.
  • Unsightliness.

Most patients have local anaesthesia during surgery. Patients are sedated, using a small vein on the back of the hand.

The pterygium is lifted upward so it is clear of the cornea. The lower end of the pterygium is cut so that the entire growth can be removed.

A Conjunctival Autograft is usually used to reduce the risk of recurrence. This is the relocation of a small portion of the conjunctiva to the site of the excised pterygium.

Mitomycin C is a special medication that can be applied in drop form after the surgery to suppress the regrowth of abnormal cells.

All surgical procedures are associated with some risk. Every attempt is made to minimise risks, however, complications can rarely occur.

  • It may be necessary for painkillers to be prescribed
  • There will be a feeling of 'grit in the eye', irritation and dryness
  • The site at which the pterygium was excised may be red for a prolonged period of time.

There are other less common problems that may occur and these will be discussed prior to surgery.

Recurrence of pterygium

A pterygium may grow back after it has been removed. While we will use the best treatments to try and prevent regrowth, the risk of recurrence in a particular person is not predictable.

We would like to acknowledge RANZCO and Mi-tec Medical Publishing for allowing us to use the above information.
The complete pamphlet is available from us and will be provided prior to surgery.