Pterygium is a wedge-shaped ‘scar growth’ which starts on the white of the eye and grows on to the clear cornea. It occurs more commonly in people who live in sunny climates where there is significant UV exposure such as Australasia, Africa and the Middle East. However, not uncommonly seen in golfers and fishermen in the UK.Pterygium is slow growing and can be symptom free in many people. However, in some individuals they can become inflamed and cause irritation and redness of the eye, and if it encroaches on to the cornea can affect the vision.
In most cases there is no treatment needed. Simple eye lubrication with artificial tears can keep it comfortable. Redness and inflammation can require the treatment with steroid eye drops. As the condition progresses it can result in astigmatism on the cornea and in severe cases result in scarring and reduction of vision.
When vision is affected the most reliable treatment is to undertake surgical excision. There are numerous ways of removing pterygium but clinical studies have clearly demonstrated that undertaking a small conjunctival graft gives the best results. Dr Tint, as a specialist corneal surgeon, has undertaken large number of these operations. He undertakes a very thorough removal of the pterygium with subsequent conjunctival autograft. This can be secured in place with dissolvable sutures or a special biological glue. Undertaking this graft reduces the risk of recurrence to 5-10%. Without conjunctival grafting the recurrence can be as high as 30%. Dr Tint’s pterygium surgery recurrence rate is less than 2%.