J. Kenneth Wallace, M.D.
Ophthalmologist

Allan J. Kelley, M.D.
Ophthalmologist

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A pterygium is fleshy tissue that grows in a triangular shape over the cornea.  It may grow large enough to interfere with vision, and surgery is required to remove it.  These growths are believed to be caused by dry eye, exposure to wind and dust, and UV exposure.

In many cases no treatment is needed.  Sometimes eyedrops and ointments may be used to reduce inflammation.  If the growth threatens sight or causes persistent discomfort, it can be removed.  Despite proper surgical removal, the pterygium may return.  If a pterygium returns, additional surgery may be necessary, particularly if there is persistent inflammation or progression of the new growth towards the center of vision.

The goal of pterygium excision is to decrease irritation/ inflammation, achieve a normal, smooth ocular surface, improve the decreased vision caused by the pterygium, and prevent regrowth, if possible.

Mitomycin-C (MMC) may be used during excision to minimize the recurrence.  MMC was first used as an anti-cancer drug.  The decision to use MMC is based on the evaluation of the advantages and potential disadvantages in each individual case.

Conjunctival transplantation or a graft may be used to minimize the recurrence.  This involves moving a piece of your own conjunctiva (the filmy white part of the eye) to the area where the pterygium is excised.

Another technique is using an amniotic membrane graft.  In this case, a freeze-dried amniotic membrane is cut and glued onto the bare sclera in the area surrounding the pterygium excision.

These techniques may be used for the management of both primary and recurrent pterygium.

Healing occurs over 2-4 weeks with mild to moderate discomfort.  A post-operative visit will be made in 10 days in which the sutures will be removed if a graft is done.  You will be sent home with drops and instructions for the first week or two after the procedure.