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Pterygium

A pterygium is a fleshy, triangular or wing-shaped growth on the surface of the eye. It is a slow-growing, benign lesion that is usually harmless. However, if a pterygium grows onto the cornea, especially over the central part, this can lead to reduced vision.

The signs and symptoms of a pterygium include:

  • A reddish-white growth with prominent blood vessels on the surface of the eye, located on either side of the cornea
  • Can occur in one or both eyes
  • Redness over the area
  • Eye irritation and foreign body sensation
  • Dry eye symptoms
  • Tearing
  • Reduced vision when the pterygium covers the central part of the cornea

If the above signs and symptoms are present, please consult an eye specialist.

Causes

One of the possible causes for the occurrence of a pterygium is exposure to UV light from the sun. Prolonged exposure to sunlight and dry, dusty conditions can be causative factors.

Management

Early on, if symptoms are not severe or cosmetically significant, pterygia can be left alone. When there is irritation, redness or discomfort, artificial tears help to moisturise the eye and relieve the discomfort. However, there no eye drops to cure pterygia.

If the vision becomes affected, then surgical removal is recommended. The surgery involves removing the fleshy growth and transplanting healthy tissue (conjunctiva) over the area to prevent and reduce the risk of recurrence. This conjunctiva is usually from one’s own eye and can be secured with sutures or fibrin glue.

Pterygium

Figure 1: Pterygium

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