A pterygium is a wing-shaped, vascular, fleshy growth that originates on the conjunctiva and that can spread to the corneal limbus and beyond. Pterygia are relatively common in the general population and typically follow an indolent course, with changes in appearance but little effect on vision and the eye itself. Most ophthalmologists commonly consider them an insignificant problem until the lesions encroach on the visual axis.
Early in the disease process, pterygia are usually asymptomatic; however, there can be signs of dry eye such as burning, itching or tearing as the lesion causes irregular wetting of the ocular surface.
As the disease progresses, the lesion increases in size and becomes more apparent to the naked eye and may become cosmetically unpleasant for the patient. Further growth may cause visual symptoms due to induced astigmatism or direct encroachment onto the visual axis.
Early in the disease process, physicians often take a conservative approach, limiting therapy to lubricating medications. Since UV radiation is believed to be an important risk factor, the clinician should recommend that patients with early-stage pterygia use proper protective eyewear. If the lesion grows, surgical intervention becomes more compelling.
The main challenge to successful surgical treatment of pterygium is recurrence. Many surgical techniques have been used, though none is universally accepted because of variable recurrence rates.
Your surgeon will review the options and recommend the best technique for you.