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What is a Pterygium?
A pterygium is an elevated, wedged-shaped bump on the white of eyeball (sclera) that can invade the cornea. These are benign (non-cancerous) growth, that can permanently disfigure and scar the surface of the eye. Usually evident in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years old, and rarely seen in kids. They can cause discomfort, dryness and blurry vision.
What Causes Pterygia?
There is a genetic and racial predisposition to pterygium development. It is more common in families where either parent had a pterygium, especially those of Hispanic, Mediterranean or Middle Eastern descent. With that said Ultraviolet radiation from the sun appears to be the primary cause to pterygia development and growth. Dust and wind exposure have also been implicated as potential causes.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Pterygium?
Pterygia usually occur on the side of the eye closer to the nose, but they can also develop on the side closer to the ear, affecting one or both eyes. Initially pterygia are generally asymptomatic but as they grow, one may note grittiness, dryness or burning sensation. If the pterygia enlarge onto the cornea (clear surface of the eye), it can distort the shape of the eye causing astigmatism and even changing your eyeglass prescription.
How is a Pterygium Treated?
Treatment varies depending on the size, location and symptomatology. If the pterygium is small, our eye doctors may prescribe lubricants or a mild steroid eye drop if swelling or redness is evident. As the pterygium enlarges surgical intervention maybe necessary.
Surgical management is recommended if: The pterygium is growing and advancing to the edge of the pupil OR if discomfort is noted secondary to the pterygium. There are several techniques to perform pterygium excision. The technique utilized by our surgeons is very efficient with minimal recurrence potential. There is generally a 30 to 40% recurrence potential, but with techniques utilized by our doctors there is less than a 2% recurrence potential. This procedure takes less than 15 minutes to performed under local anesthesia. A patch is placed at the end of the case and you are seen the following day.
What are the Risks of Pterygium Surgery?
It is rare for complications to occur following pterygium surgery. Potential complications may include:
- Dry Eyes
- Corneal Scarring
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