The word pterygium comes from the Greek word pterios, meaning “wing”. A pterygium is a wing-shaped overgrowth of fleshy tissue onto the front of your eye. It is often caused by dry, irritated eyes or chronic exposure to UV light. It is also known as "Surfer's Eye", and it is a common problem here on the South Coast.
A pterygium can cause you several problems:
Change in vision due to irregular astigmatism that cannot be fully corrected by glasses
Contact lens discomfort
Permanently reduced vision secondary to scarring
Rarely, they can represent a type of skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma)
Pterygium and vision correction surgery
If you are wanting vision correction surgery with either laser or lens-based approaches, but also have a pterygium, it is important that the pterygium is treated successfully first. This is because an untreated pterygium will compromise your final visual outcome.
In the early stages, you can sometimes prevent a pterygium getting worse by keeping your eye well lubricated with artificial tear drops and avoiding UV exposure with good quality sunglasses.
This is not always successful though, and early removal with surgery offers you the best chance of a good long-term outcome as it prevents the pterygium getting to the point where it causes distortion of the vision and permanent scarring.
Another benefit of removing a pterygium is that we can ensure there is no sign of skin cancer within the growth, by sending the removed specimen for detailed histological analysis
My second corneal Fellowship was in sunny, surfy Western Australia, one of the world’s pterygium “hot-spots”.
Having performed pterygium surgery hundreds of times and studied the different techniques of other surgeons, I have refined a minimal-touch approach to pterygium surgery that usually requires no stitches and no cautery. This leads to a much more comfortable experience for you after surgery.
It is a safe procedure and I am happy to offer it as soon as you are having any of the above problems.