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Pterygium surgery

A pterygium is a pink, fleshy tissue growth onto the conjunctiva, which is the transparent tissue that lines the eye. This growth occurs mostly on the inner side of the nose side of the eye and grows towards the pupil. The early symptoms of pterygium include a feeling as if something is in your eye or feeling gritty, burning, itching and redness. At this point, your ophthalmologist will use a slit lamp microscope to make the diagnoses. If your symptoms are mild, and your vision has not been blurred or obstructed by the pterygium, it is possible to treat the condition with eye drops or eye ointments which might include steroid eye drops.

It is usually caused by dry eyes, irritants or excessive sun or UV ray exposure. Although this fleshy growth may seem scary, this is not a serious condition; however, the tissue can cause symptoms of irritation, blurred vision, redness and discomfort. In most some cases, a pterygium may be treated with eye drops; however, occasionally pterygium removal surgery may be recommended if the pterygium causes vision impairment, is massive or is painful.

A pinguecula is very similar to a pterygium and is often confused; however, a pinguecula only grows onto the conjunctiva and will not grow across the cornea or obstruct your vision. A pinguecula will usually form in the inner corner of the eye near the nose, and although it looks similar to a pterygium, it looks more like a bump than a tissue growth. The symptoms of a pinguecula are similar to that of pterygium and are also caused by the same environmental factors. Pingueculae are usually treated with eye drops

Surgical treatment

Dr Enslin Uys will perform pterygium removal surgery, which is a relatively quick procedure in which the growth tissue is removed. Thereafter, the empty space left from the removal of the tissue is filled or replaced with a graft of tissue, usual tissue from your own conjunctiva. The tissue graft is sutured or glued into place.

The procedure is performed with the use of an anaesthetic, so it is completely painless during surgery. Although the eye may appear red after surgery, recovery time is quick, and you should be able to go back to work within a few days. If a suture was used to secure the graft, Dr Uys will painlessly remove this in his rooms after 3 weeks. Your eye will return to a regular appearance gradually, within the next 4 weeks. After the surgery, it is imperative to protect your eyes from irritants and wear sunglasses for UV ray protection.