What is a pterygium

A pterygium (pronounced te-ri-gi-um, plural pterygia) is a triangular-shaped lump of tissue which grows from the conjunctiva (the thin membrane which covers the white of the eye) on to the cornea (the clear central part of the eye). Pterygia often occur in both eyes, usually on the nasal side. A pterygium is not a cancer. People sometimes confuse pterygia with cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye and cannot be seen easily with the naked eye.

What causes pterygia

The exact causes of pterygia are not known, but they are strongly associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation and hot, dry environments. Pterygia are more common among people who spend a lot of time outdoors, but anyone can develop a pterygium.

What symptoms can pterygia cause

Pterygia can cause the following symptoms:
  • ocular discomfort
  • blurry vision
  • aesthetic

Is a pterygium dangerous

Although a pterygium is not dangerous, it should be checked to make sure that it is not something more serious. If you have a pterygium that grows rapidly you should consult an eye specialist immediately to exclude conjunctival neoplasia.

How can pterygia be treated?

Small pterygia are treated conservatively with eye drops and sunglasses. If a pterygium is symptomatic surgical removal is indicated. This is done in theatre usually under local anaesthesia. The most common procedure done today is removal of the pterygium with a conjunctival free graft. The eye is usually red with mild discomfort for the first week after the surgery. Post operative eye drops are usually prescribed for a period of one to two months. Recurrence of the pterygium is minimised by wearing sunglasses.