A pterygium is a membrane that grows on the conjunctiva, which is the otherwise clear membrane that lines the white of the eye and the inner part of the eyelid. This growth can penetrate the cornea, which is the clear dome that covers the eye. Pterygia are benign, and doctors think they are caused by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet light or even the wind. This gives pterygium its other name of “surfer’s eye.” Below is more information about when you need pterygium removal.
Sometimes it is easy to see a pterygium, but Dr. Reena Patel may need to perform a slit lamp exam to definitively diagnose one. During a slit-lamp exam, Dr. Patel uses a special microscope to see the inside of the patient’s eye.
When to Have Pterygium Removal
Many pterygia do not impair the person’s vision or cause great discomfort and so don’t really need to be treated. They need to be removed when they start to creep over the pupil and the iris and interfere with the person’s ability to see. In that case, it can be surgically removed.
Pterygium Removal Surgery
Modern techniques have made pterygium removal more effective. The latest technique in pterygium removal is called a conjunctival autograft. Dr. Patel removes the pterygium, then fills the place where it had been with a tissue graft from the patient’s inner upper eyelid. This stops the pterygium from growing and since the graft is from the patient, there’s no risk of rejection. The tissue graft can be secured with tiny stitches that Dr. Patel either removes after some weeks or are absorbed into the patient’s body. However, even newer techniques allows the graft to stay in place without stitches.
In the no-stitch surgery, the pterygium is still replaced with the autograft, but Dr. Patel may use tissue adhesive to hold it in place. This is because this adhesive is full of clotting factors that are derived from human blood. In a week or so, this adhesive dissolves, and the eye heals. This technique removes much of the discomfort of a surgery that requires stitches, and the patient can go back to work two days or even one day after their surgery. It also reduces the time of the surgery from about 21 minutes to about 14 minutes, and the pterygium does not come back.
Visit Us for More Information about Pterygium Removal
If you have noticed that you have a pterygium and it is beginning to interfere with your vision, don’t hesitate to speak with Dr. Patel at Wichita Vision Institute in Wichita, KS. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!