What is a pterygium (Surfer’s Eye)?
A pterygium is a wing-shaped growth extending from the moist conjunctiva over the cornea of the eye. Pterygiums cause dryness and irritation of the eye and if left untreated can grow over the pupil blinding some patients.
Pterygiums are caused many factors including high sun and ultraviolet light exposure. People who work outdoors or are welders are more likely to develop pterygiums. There can be genetic causes of pterygiums that cause inherited pterygium formation. Some studies have found evidence of viruses causing pterygiums to form.
Avoiding sun exposure, wearing sun glasses, wearing a hat, and using eye lubricants can prevent pterygiums from developing or growing. Associated episodes of infections and inflammation of pterygiums are treated medically.
When does a pterygium require surgery?
Pterygiums should be removed when they are growing, cause discomfort and inflammation, become unsightly, or threaten to cover the pupil and impair vision.
How is a pterygium removed?
Pterygiums are removed from the moist, peripheral conjunctiva and the cornea. Often a medicine to prevent recurrence is administered. Next, a graft of the patient’s excess conjunctiva or of donated amniotic membrane is used to cover the removed diseased conjunctival tissue.
What are the chances that a pterygium will recur after surgery?
Studies have demonstrated that 95% to 99% of first time pterygiums don’t come back after surgery. Recurrent pterygiums are more likely to recur after surgery. Post-operative medications are used to prevent or treat recurrence. A minority of patients will require additional surgery.
Will the pterygium be noticeable after surgery?
Most pterygiums are not noticeable after the eye heals from surgery, but sometimes redness or scarring can be visible.
Schedule a consultation
If you are interested in pterygium treatment, contact one of our North Suburban Chicago offices today! Call 847-677-2794 to schedule a consultation with top Chicago ophthalmologist Dr. Stuart Sondheimer.