Pterygium is an abnormal conjunctival growth across the cornea of the eye. We see this a lot in the Northern Rivers due to our high levels of UV and outdoor lifestyle. It is common in surfers, farmers, fishermen and anyone spending long periods outdoors or on the beach. If the growth is irritating, constantly red, or begins to grow across the visual axis, then removal with a graft is required.
Using a graft reduces the risk of recurrence. The graft is a small piece of conjunctiva, harvested from under the top eyelid and placed in the corner of the eye. The graft can be attached using stitches or glue. Both have their pros and cons and we decide which to use depending on individual circumstances.
Occasionally pterygium can be pre-cancerous and will require eyedrop chemotherapy after surgery. We send all pterygium away to check the pathology; both for our patients’ peace of mind and to plan any additional treatment.