Pterygium Surgery


What is a Pterygium?

This fairly common condition is characterised by a growth of pink, fleshy tissue on the white of the eye (sclera) that then encroaches on the cornea (clear window at the front of the eye). It usually occurs on the side of the eye closest to the nose. It is usually harmless and does not require treatment. However, if progressive and enlarging in size, it should be removed as it can eventually interfere with vision and cause significant scarring.

What are the symptoms?

If you suffer from this condition you will be able to see a wedge-shaped growth on your eye. You will probably feel like you have something in your eye, and experience sensations such as grittiness, itchiness, burning, redness and inflammation. You may feel more discomfort when the pterygium is growing.

You may also experience blurred or distorted vision if the pterygium has grown onto your cornea to a large degree. However, reduced vision is rare in developed countries. It may occur due to growth towards the centre of the cornea or induced astigmatism.

What are the causes?

This eye condition is caused by exposure to UV rays and dry and dusty conditions. For this reason, it is more commonly seen in people who have lived near the equator or in very sunny places. Pterygia are usually seen in people aged between 30 and 50, and are more common in men than in women.


What are the treatment options?

In most cases, a stable condition is harmless and can be left untreated. If there is discomfort, this can be treated using lubricating eye drops for symptomatic relief. It is important to monitor your eye condition as it may grow and affect your vision in the future, even if it is not causing any problems at the moment. If it IS affecting your vision it will need to be surgically removed.

If surgery is necessary, as with most eye surgery procedures, it can be performed under local or general anaesthetic, depending on the size and location of the pterygium and your own preference.

Your surgeon will use micro-instruments to remove the pterygium. He or she will then perform an auto-graft, using tissue from an area of normal conjunctiva to fill the gap where the pterygium was. The graft tissue is usually harvested from the area of the eye covered by the eyelid. The graft is either glued or sewn into place using stitches that will dissolve within a few weeks of the surgery.

This technique, known as conjunctival autografting, is currently the most effective method of doing the surgery. It reduces the chance of the pterygium recurring to less than 5% – the most common complication associated with pterygium surgery.


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What is a pterygium?

A pterygium is an elevated, reddish, wing shaped growth on the surface of your eye. Its commonly associated with sun exposure. A pterygium can grow, cause redness, irritation, dryness and even distortion of vision. Surgery to remove pterygium can greatly improve symptoms.

Do I need to get my pterygium removed?

This can be determined during your consultation with our experienced surgeons.

What is the best treatment for the pterygium?

Pterygium surgery is a day procedure done under local anaesthetic. During the procedure the pterygium is excised and a small graft from the same eye is placed over the area to prevent recurrence of pterygium. This graft can be sutured with absorbable sutures or just glued on.

Founder and Surgeon at Adelaide Eye Surgeons

Dr Edward Greenrod

At Adelaide Eye Surgeons, our aim is to provide all South Australians with the best care for their eyes. We are experts in proven, advanced surgical treatments utilising modern technology. We specialise in cataract, cornea, glaucoma, laser and retinal surgery."

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