A pterygium is a triangular or wedge-shaped growth on the anterior surface of the eye. Usually they occur on the inside corner of the eye. They are usually elevated and red and can cause discomfort of the eye. If large a pterygium can begin to affect the vision in the affected eye.
The main cause for pterygium is thought to be excess exposure to ultraviolet light. Such exposure is common in countries such as New Zealand or Australia or the Pacific Islands. A pterygium is also more common in those who work outside or engage in sporting activities outside. Fortunately a pterygium is not cancerous or precancerous.
Early treatment for pterygium can consist of simple measures including reducing sun exposure e.g. wearing sunglasses as well as treatment with lubricating eye drops.
If conservative measures are unsuccessful surgery may be necessary. Surgery for pterygium is usually performed under local anaesthetic. The pterygium is surgically removed and then usually a graft from elsewhere on the surface of the eye (a so-called conjunctival autograft) is placed on the site of the excision. This graft is secured with sutures and/or tissue glue. This surgery usually results in an excellent result in terms of appearance and comfort.