What is pterygium?
Pterygium refers to the benign fleshy, wing-shaped growth that one sees on the surface of the eye. It often starts near the inner or outer white of the eye and then grows gradually towards the centre of the cornea. The cause is not fully understood although sun exposure is often implicated.
Is surgery necessary?
In the early stages, a small pterygium could be asymptomatic and therefore could be left alone. However, as it progresses, the pterygium can potentially induce astigmatism as it weakens the cornea in that meridian. It also tends to cause eye redness and discomfort over time. In advanced cases, the pterygium could block the pupil and impair vision.
Most patients, at some point, proceed with pterygium surgery. This involves excision of the pterygium, harvesting of a conjunctival autograft and attachment of this graft over the bare scleral area. A special glue can be used in this attachment step to reduce the surgical time and alleviate the immediate post-operative discomfort from stitches which would otherwise be needed. The timing of surgery can be decided after discussion with your eye doctor.
Can the condition recur after surgery?
Although the use of a conjunctival autograft can indeed reduce the recurrence rate, it is still possible to see recurrence after some time. A repeat surgery would then be indicated.