Pterygium or I Have a Ter-what?

A pterygium (ter-rij-ee-uhm) is a growth of fibrovascular tissue that starts on the conjunctiva of the eye and extends onto the corneal surface, often in a triangular or wing-like shape. It may grow very slowly in some individuals or rapidly in others. In the early stages there may be no symptoms and some patients may not even realize they have one. In later stages, however, the eye can become inflamed leading to discomfort  and an undesirable appearance, while its growth onto the cornea can cause blurred vision.

Treatment for mild cases may include artificial tears to lubricate the eye and/or steroid eye drops to calm active inflammation. For moderate to severe cases, surgical removal may be indicated. Historically, there has been a high rate of recurrence of pterygia following surgery, but removal combined with other treatments such as conjunctival autografts, amniotic membrane transplantation and the use of mitomycin C (a chemotherapeutic agent) have brought the recurrence rate down.

The prevalence of pterygia are higher near equatorial regions of the world and in high altitude populations, indicating a relationship to sunlight or ultraviolet exposure. They are also believed to be connected to dusty or windy environments. Wearing UV-protecting sunglasses and/or wide-brimmed hats can be helpful.

The doctors here at Focal Point Vision have the training and experience to treat your pterygium. Give us a call at 210-614-3600 or go to www.focalpointvision.com to schedule your exam.