The term pterygium refers to a fleshy thickening of the conjunctiva which has grown onto the surface of the cornea, most often seen on the nasal side of the eye.
This is in response to surface irritation of the eye by UV exposure and other irritants. Commonly seen in people with high outdoor exposure, e.g. fishermen, surfers, runners, golfers etc. Pterygia often become inflamed, red and uncomfortable, and should be treated in order to reduce their growth rate.
The treatment of a pterygium is to reduce its exposure to UV with sunglasses or a hat, and to use lubricant eye drops regularly. If the eye becomes inflamed, one may need anti inflammatory eye drops as well. If the pterygium continues to grow and threatens the vision, or becomes cosmetically unacceptable, it may be necessary to surgically remove it. Most surgeons now use the autograft technique. (This is where some conjunctival tissue is harvested from a healthy area, usually from an area covered by the upper lid, and grafted into the defect left after removal of the pterygium.) The graft can be held in place by stitches or a tissue glue. The tissue glue technique seems to give a more comfortable result, with possibly less risk of recurrence.
Post operatively it is very important to use the eye medications prescribed by your doctor. Ongoing treatment is vital in reducing the risk of recurrence, and one should continue to protect the eyes with sunglasses and lubricants.