Can a Pterygium Affect My Eyesight?

Can a Pterygium Affect My Eyesight?

A pterygium is a fleshy, wedge-shaped growth that forms on the conjunctiva, the eye’s clear membrane. It’s often called “surfer’s eye” because it’s extremely common among surfers. The growth usually forms on the area of the eye close to the nose and grows toward the pupil.

A pterygium isn’t cancerous, and it’s usually not serious, but it can cause uncomfortable symptoms and is definitely an eyesore. In extreme cases, it may grow over your pupil, causing vision problems.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Luis C. Omphroy diagnoses and treats pterygia at Omphroy Eye Care, in Aiea, Hawaii. 

Because many people are bothered by the sight of a pterygium and the symptoms that come with it, and because a pterygium has the potential to affect your eyesight, one of the services the doctor offers is pterygium surgery

With this type of surgery, he uses a specialized technique to ensure you have a minimal chance of recurrence.

Pterygium formation

The causes of a pterygium growth are well-known:

Pterygia occur most frequently in men aged 20-40 who live near the equator (such as in Hawaii), but anyone who lives in a sunny location and/or regularly spends time outdoors, especially without sunglasses, can develop one.

What are pterygium symptoms?

Pterygium development starts with a pinguecula, a yellowish patch or bump on the conjunctiva that can become red if irritated. It then progresses to the fleshy growth that characterizes the condition.

Pterygia can develop in one or both eyes, and while they don’t always cause symptoms, when they do, the symptoms are generally mild. The symptoms include redness, eye irritation, a burning sensation, and/or itchiness. 

A pterygium can grow, though, and if it becomes large enough to cover your cornea, the curved, transparent membrane that protects the eye’s surface, it can lead to blurred vision by changing the shape of your eye. 

Thick pterygia, or ones that grow large, can make you feel like there’s something in your eye.

Treating a pterygium

If you’re experiencing mild symptoms, Dr. Omphroy might choose to treat you with eyedrops, such as:

If the drops don’t prove effective, if the growth’s appearance bothers you, or if you experience blurred vision, Dr. Omphroy might recommend pterygium surgery to remove the growth completely.

Ophthalmologists use a number of different techniques to remove a pterygium, but Dr. Omphroy uses his own unique protocol, as follows:

1. TISSEEL glue

TISSEEL glue is a fibrin sealant. Dr. Omphroy uses it to prepare the surgical site for an amniotic graft, allowing him to position the graft without sutures. 

2. Amniotic membrane transplant

After removing the growth, Dr. Omphroy replaces the missing conjunctival tissue with a small section of amniotic membrane. The membrane protects the eye as it heals and minimizes inflammation and scarring, which greatly reduces the risk of regrowth. 

3. Anterior segment reconstruction

In addition to placing the membrane, Dr. Omphroy expertly repairs any damage the pterygium caused to the eye’s surface. It’s a relatively painless procedure that leaves the eye looking completely natural. 

If you’re bothered by the appearance or symptoms of a pterygium, especially if it’s begun to affect your eyesight, it’s time to come into Omphroy Eye Care in Aiea, Hawaii, for expert treatment. Give our office a call at 808-491-6513 to set up an appointment with Dr. Omphroy today.

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