A pterygium is a triangular shaped non-cancerous growth of conjunctival tissue onto the cornea or clear surface on the front of the eye. The conjunctiva is a layer of tissue that coats the eye.
This is a painless procedure which is done in the operating theatre where a local anaesthetic is used. The procedure usually involves removal and the ‘bare’ area is subsequently covered or repaired using a healthy piece of conjunctival tissue harvested from under the eyelid (this tissue is called a graft). The reason a conjunctival graft is used is to reduce the chance of recurrence of the pterygium.
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In some circumstances simple treatment with drops proves ineffective and surgery may be considered as the most appropriate form of treatment. Sometimes surgery is considered for other reasons for example if the pterygium has grown sufficiently across the eye to interfere with vision or if it is cosmetically unacceptable. Surgery involves removing the pterygium.
After surgery, the eye is red in appearance. Any discomfort is minimised by the use of eye drops and the use of tablets such as Panadol. Driving and work at your place of employment is not advisable for 3-4 days. It is also advised to wear sunglasses outdoors after the surgery to help minimise the chances of recurrence. These sunglasses should preferably be of the wrap around style.