A pterygium (pronounced "tehr-RIDGE-ium") is a growth of scar tissue and blood vessels on the surface of the eye. Normally, the outer surface of the eye is clear and smooth. However, when damaged by overexposure to dryness and UV light, the growth can extend across the cornea, causing foreign body sensation, irritation, redness, and eventually, visual disturbances. Left unchecked, it may eventually cause loss of vision.
Before Pterygium Removal
After Pterygium Removal
The primary cause of pterygium is cumulative UV radiation, typically from sun exposure. Dry, windy, and dusty conditions can also contribute to its growth. Ptergyium are often seen in sunny San Diego and Southern California in surfers, boaters, soccer players and those who work outside, like landscapers and construction workers. Like skin made wrinkled and leathery by sun damage, the conjunctiva responds to UV damage by becoming rough, thick, and filled with blood vessels. The thickened and uneven surface causes irritation and ultimately, trouble seeing. Left untreated, pterygium can rob you of your sight.
Not all pterygia need to be removed. If yours isn't threatening your sight or causing you significant comfort, medication alone may be sufficient. Lubricating eye drops, ointments, and possibly a non-steroidal or even a mild steroid eye drop may be prescribed to reduce inflammation associated with a pterygium. If medication doesn't provide sufficient relief, and your pterygium has become large enough to cause trouble, or you'd like it removed for cosmetic reasons, surgery can be helpful.
Pterygium removal surgery eliminates the abnormal tissue from the cornea and sclera (white of the eye). The older surgical techniques left a hole in the conjunctiva (the surface of the eye) where the pterygium was removed. Unfortunately, this led to a high rate of regrowth.
A newer technique fills the gap left by the removal of the pterygium with a graft of tissue removed from under the eyelid. This graft is then sutured in place. A downside of this approach is that the stitches can cause discomfort while the eye heals. This healing period can last for weeks. More about the Treatment of Pterygium.
When your vision worsens, it can be a difficult time, but Dr. Feldman and her caring staff will be there for you throughout the entire process. Clearview Eye and Laser Medical centers devoted staff is known for remarkable personalized patient care and will take as much time as necessary to answer all of your questions and listen to your concerns.
To find out more about Pterygium surgery, please call or email us today to schedule a consultation with San Diego pterygium surgeon, Dr. Sandy Feldman.
ClearView Eye and Laser Medical Center provides Pterygium surgery in the San Diego, California area. We offer this web page as general information about Pterygium. This information should not be considered formal medical advice. Please contact us today for formal advice during Pterygium surgery consultation in San Diego.
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