Pterygium is a noncancerous lesion that usually grows slowly throughout life. It may even stop growing after a certain point. In advanced cases, a pterygium can continue growing until it covers the pupil of the eye and interferes with vision.
A pterygium may affect one or both eyes. When it affects both eyes, it is called a bilateral pterygium.
Pterygium is usually not a serious condition. It can, though, cause annoying symptoms such as the feeling of having a foreign body in the eye. Sometimes the growth becomes red and irritated and requires medical treatment.
Treatment: Pterygium usually doesn't require treatment if symptoms are mild. If the lesion causes persistent discomfort or interferes with vision, it can be surgically removed during an outpatient procedure. You and your doctor may also take into account appearance and the size of the pterygium when making a decision about surgery.The most often performed surgery is one that uses the patient's own conjunctiva (surface eye tissue) or preserved amniotic membrane (placenta) to fill the empty space created by the removal of the pterygium. In this procedure, the pterygium is removed and the conjunctiva or amniotic membrane is glued or stitched onto the affected area.Pterygium surgery typically takes 30 to 45 minutes. After surgery, patients usually need to wear an eye patch for a day or two. But they can return to work or normal activities (avoiding swimming and eye rubbing) after a few days.Patients need to be carefully followed for a year. About 97% of recurrences happen during the first 12 months after surgery.
Surgical complications may also include corneal scarring and perforation of the white part of the eye. In some cases, surgical removal of pterygium can cause astigmatism.