When Pterygium Surgery Might Be Right for You

When Pterygium Surgery Might Be Right for You

A pterygium is more commonly known as “surfer’s eye” because of its prevalence among those participating in that sport. The condition results in a pink, fleshy, wedge-shaped growth on the eye’s conjunctiva, the clear membrane that lines your eyelids and covers your eyeball. 

It usually forms on the part of the eye close to the nose, growing toward the pupil. In extreme cases, it covers your pupil, causing vision problems.

A pterygium isn’t usually serious, and it’s certainly not cancerous, but it can be a bit uncomfortable and is definitely an eyesore. You may choose to have it removed.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Luis C. Omphroy diagnoses and treats pterygiums at his practice, Omphroy Eye Care, in Aiea, Hawaii. One of the services he offers is pterygium surgery, which he expertly performs to both restore your eye health and achieve a nice cosmetic result. 

His specialized technique also ensures you have a minimal chance of recurrence. Here’s what he wants you to know about the condition and when pterygium surgery might be right for you.

What causes a pterygium to form?

The causes of a pterygium are pretty straightforward:

Because of the combination of factors, you’re most likely to develop a pterygium if you live near the equator and you’re a man 20-40 years old. But anyone who lives in a sunny place or regularly spends time outdoors, especially without sunglasses, can get it.

What are the symptoms?

Before the pterygium appears, you might notice a related condition, known as a pinguecula. It's a yellowish patch or bump, also on the conjunctiva, and it can get red if irritated.

Pterygiums can occur in one or both eyes. The condition doesn’t always cause symptoms, but when it does, they’re usually mild. Common symptoms include redness, eye irritation, a burning sensation, and/or itchiness. 

If it grows large enough to cover your cornea, a pterygium can lead to blurred vision by changing the shape of your eye. Thick pterygiums or large ones can make you feel like you have something in your eye. Contact lens wearers may have to forgo their lenses until it’s cleared up.

When pterygium surgery might be right for you

If your symptoms are mild, we might choose to treat you with eyedrops, including:

If the drops aren’t helpful or if the growth’s appearance becomes a problem, we might recommend pterygium surgery to remove it completely.

There are a number of removal techniques, but Dr. Omphroy uses his own unique protocol.

TISSEEL glue

TISSEEL glue is a fibrin sealant that Dr. Omphroy uses to prepare the surgical site for an amniotic graft. It allows him to position the graft without sutures. 

Amniotic membrane transplant

After he removes the growth, Dr. Omphroy replaces the missing tissue with a small section of amniotic membrane, which protects the eye as it heals.The membrane minimizes inflammation and scarring, in turn greatly reducing the risk of regrowth. 

Anterior segment reconstruction

Once he removes the growth, Dr. Omphroy expertly repairs any damage the pterygium caused. It’s a relatively painless procedure that offers a good cosmetic result; the eye looks completely natural. 

How to protect your eyes following pterygium surgery

We recommend ways to protect your eyes and prevent a regrowth of the pterygium. These include consistently wearing sunglasses outdoors (preferably the wraparound kind), using eye protection where there’s a lot of wind or dust, and using artificial tears as needed.

If you have a wedge-shaped growth on the white of your eye, it’s most likely a pterygium. If it’s not causing symptoms, you can leave it alone, but if you want it removed, surgery is an effective option. Give us a call to set up a consultation with Dr. Omphroy.

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