A pterygium is a wing-like overgrowth of tissue arising from the “white” of the eye (conjunctiva), encroaching onto the “coloured” surface of the eye (cornea). It tends to occur in mid to late adulthood. This fleshy growth in the eye is not cancerous.
Very likely so. Many patients have no symptoms. However, in some patients, the pterygium can become red and inflammed in certain irritating environments such as smoke-filled rooms, air-conditioning etc. Less commonly, the pterygium may actually interfere vision by causing astigmatism due to its asymmetrical growth onto the surface of the eye, or by growing into the line of vision.
There is a strong link with long-term exposure to sunlight, particularly UV exposure. People who spend more time outdoors are more likely to develop pterygia.
Surgical removal of pterygia is advocated especially if the overgrowth is significant, and encroaching onto the “coloured” surface of the eye (cornea), causing significant astigmatism or simply obstructing vision. Occasionally, persistent or recurrent episodes of eye redness and discomfort necessitating long term usage of eye drops may be a relative indication for removal.
Pterygium surgical excision is relatively simple and quick. It involves excising the tissue overgrowth, using tissue glue to aid patching of the resulting defect with the transparent membrane of the eye called “conjunctiva”. The entire procedure can be done under local anaesthesia.