A pterygium, pronounced Ti-Ridge-ium, is a ‘wing of tissue’ that grows onto the cornea, via the transparent skin of the eye (the conjunctiva)

The growth will often develop on the area of your eye nearest to your nose. The primary cause is thought to be UV exposure, in particular the amount you received in childhood.

It is common for Queenslanders to develop this condition as well as anyone else who enjoys a lot more time outdoors in sunny and windy conditions. As a result the condition frequently affects surfers, hence the condition has gained the nickname, Surfer’s Eye. Similarly, the condition is often found in tradespeople or others who work outside, particularly welders.

Patients are most commonly aged between 20 and 40, and there is a higher incidence in men versus women.

PTERYGIUM: What is it?

COMMON PTERYGIUM SYMPTOMS

Common symptoms include:

  • Itching or burning.
  • Blurred vision.
  • A reddish tissue growing over the coloured part of your eye.
  • An ongoing sensation that something is in your eye.

However, some patients may not experience any symptoms at all.

DO THEY AFFECT YOUR VISION?

It is possible for a pterygium to affect your vision when it grows large enough to cross the visual axis, the centre of the pupil. This is also the case if it causes significant astigmatism. Astigmatism is where the cornea is shaped more like an egg or a rugby football, rather than a perfect sphere, and causes a change in vision.

In some cases, they can cause annoying irritation because they disturb the spread of the normal tear film. Alternatively, they may also look red and unsightly but with minimal symptoms.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS

If they are small and don’t bother you, they usually only require good UV protection with wrap-around sunglasses, combined with the use of lubricant drops.

PTERYGIUM SURGERY

If the pterygium is large, shows accelerated growth, causes significant irritation, or the appearance bothers you, then they can be surgically removed.

If you decide to have surgery, make sure you choose a surgeon with a special interest and fellowship in the disease. These surgeons use a technique that has a minimal risk of them growing back, called a recurrence, and can guarantee an excellent cosmetic result.

Dr. Smallcombe is the first surgeon in Australia and New Zealand to become an accredited P.E.R.F.E.C.T. for PTERYGIUM® PARTNER. She completed a Fellowship with Professor Lawrence Hirst, who is the pioneer of this surgical procedure.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

RANZCO (The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists) has produced an informative brochure. Click here to go to the RANZCO website and download the brochure.

Also, see our Top Pterygium Tips

CONTACT US FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

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