A pterygium is an overgrowth of thickened white skin on the eye, usually appearing as a wedge that covers the inner white part of the eye.

Pterygiums vary in size, growing onto the clear cornea and towards the pupil, and can impair vision.

It is also important to note that in some cases they can even become cancerous!

Surgery is usually indicated when it interferes with your vision, causes excessive irritation despite lubricants, and is certainly considered if it has cancerous features.

The exact cause of a pterygium is unknown however the following have been found to be contributing factors:

  • UV exposure – e.g. prolonged work outdoors, surfing, farming.
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Genetic or family predisposition
  • Increased incidence with age

Pterygium surgery can be undertaken for the following reasons:

  • Reducing vision either by blocking the pupil or by distorting the eye.
  • Irritation, tearing and discomfort despite lubricants and other efforts.
  • Causing astigmatism and blurred vision by distorting the surface of the eye
  • Causing problems with contact lenses
  • If signs of possible cancer developing

This is a painless day procedure performed with intravenous sedation and local anaesthesia. Patients are  often sleeping during the procedure, which usually takes 30-60 minutes to complete in most cases.

Surgery involves the removal of the pterygium and replacing it with healthy skin from a conjunctival graft which is taken from the upper part of the eye. This fine graft is usually fixed on with a special glue which makes the surgery more comfortable than using stitches, and doesn’t require later removal.  Dr Semerli also usually applies a temporary contact lens for additional comfort, which is removed within a few days usually.

Contact Specialist Eye Surgeons