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Pterygium
What is a pterygium?

A growth of the conjunctiva over the iris. Usually slow growing, but can block your vision if it grows over the pupil.

What is the conjunctiva?

The conjunctiva is the white part of the eye.

What causes Pterygia?

Usually prolonged exposure to UV/sunlight along with being in a dry or dusty environment.

How do Pterygia affect my vision?

Pterygia can cause astigmatism in most cases and if large enough it can block your vision.

Who is at risk for Pterygia?

People who are prone to UV exposures such as farmers, construction, athletes, etc.

How can I prevent a Pterygium?

You can prevent a pterygium by wearing sun protection, sunglasses, hats, and visors.

What are the symptoms of a Pterygium?

  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurry vision

How is a Pterygium treated?

Small pterygiums can be monitored and lubricated with artificial tears. Large pterygiums can be removed by surgery.

What are the risks of Pterygium surgery?

  • Infection
  • Change in glasses prescription including astigmatism
  • Pain
  • Bleeding

Is Pterygium surgery effective?

Yes, if the postoperative care is followed correctly by the patient. If followed, the patient should recover within one month and with white eyes again.

What happens before surgery?

You will come in for a consult with your ophthalmologist before surgery will be scheduled. If you have any heart conditions and/or are diabetic, you may need to get clearance from your cardiologist or primary care physician before having surgery.

What happens during surgery?

The surgery will be an outpatient procedure. Your eye will be numbed during the surgery, but you will be awake. The surgeon will remove the pterygium and replace it with a conjunctival graft from the same eye. Depending on the size of the pterygium, the surgeon will place from 5-10 stitches in the eye to keep the graft in place. Then the eye will be patched until the next day.

What happens after surgery?

The entire recovery process for a pterygium surgery is about 8 weeks. You will need to take about 3 weeks off from work, depending on recovery. In order for the eye to heal well, we instruct our patients to use an antibiotic ointment and place a pressure patch on their eye for about 3 days post-surgery. In addition, our patients will be prescribed an eyedrop that prevents inflammation in the eye. At Northwest Eye Associates, we also strongly recommend using the medication Mitomycin-C one week after surgery to burn the root of the pterygium since it has a 40% chance of recurrence. We prepare this medication for our patients in our office since it is only available in compounding pharmacies. After 3 weeks, if the eye is healing well, the stitches will be removed.

Can problems develop after surgery?

  • Astigmatism
  • Graft Rejection
  • Redness
  • Blurry vision

Can my Pterygium come back?

Yes, there is a 40% rate of recurrence, but measures are taken to prevent regrowth.

DISCLAIMER - At Northwest Eye Associates we regard patient education just as important as diagnosis; therefore, we have provided answers to many questions you may have. Please note that this information serves to educate patients on common conditions, NOT to diagnose them. Please consult with your eye care physician for specific answers as he or she will know what is best for your eye. Come see us at Northwest Eye Associates to receive your evaluation today! - 713-864-8652
1740 W27th Street, Suite 180
Houston, Texas 77008
713-864-8652
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