What is Pterygium?
A pterygium is a pinkish, triangular tissue growth on the cornea of the eye. It typically starts on the cornea near the nose. It may slowly grow but rarely grows so large that the pupil is covered. Often both eyes are involved.
The cause is unclear. It appears to be partly related to long term exposure to UV light and dust. Genetic factors also appear to be involved, pterygia are twice as likely to occur in men than women.

Treatment of Pterygium
Pterygium typically do not require surgery unless it grows to such an extent that it causes visual problems. Some of the symptoms such as irritation can be addressed with artificial tears. Surgery may also be considered for unmanageable symptoms.

A Cochrane review found conjunctival autograft surgery was less likely to have reoccurrence of the pterygium at 6 months compared to amniotic membrane transplant. More research is needed to determine which type of surgery resulted in better vision or quality of life. The additional use of mitomycin C is of unclear effect. Radiotherapy has also be used in an attempt to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Conjunctival auto-grafting is a surgical technique that is an effective and safe procedure for pterygium removal. When the pterygium is removed, the tissue that covers the sclera known as the Tenons layer is also removed. Auto-grafting covers the bare sclera with conjunctival tissue that is surgically removed from an area of healthy conjunctiva. That “self-tissue” is then transplanted to the bare sclera and is fixated using sutures or tissue adhesive.

Amniotic membrane transplantation
Amniotic membrane transplantation is an effective and safe procedure for pterygium removal. Amniotic membrane transplantation offers practical alternative to conjunctival auto graft transplantation for extensive pterygium removal. Amniotic membrane transplantation is tissue that is acquired from the innermost layer of the human placenta and has been used to replace and heal damaged mucosal surfaces including successful reconstruction of the ocular surface. It has been used as a surgical material since the 1940s, and has been shown to have a strong anti-adhesive effect.

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Consultant Ophthalmologist Vitreoretinal Surgeon

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