Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pterygium-A Common Growth on the Eye

A pterygium is a pinkish triangular-shaped tissue that originates from the inner part of the eye and grows onto the cornea (clear front window of the eye). After developing, a pterygium often becomes stationary or slowly migrates toward the pupil.  Rarely, it can grow quickly causing the vision to become severely blurred.  Once diagnosed, it’s generally good for patients to have annual eye examinations to determine if the pterygium is growing because of potential loss of vision.

Why a pterygium develops is not entirely known; although, several risk factors have been identified.  These include family history, excessive ultraviolet (UV) exposure, and working in dry dusty environments.  In areas where sunlight is strong, wearing sunglasses and/or hats with brims is important, especially if a pterygium has already formed. For most patients, the pterygium causes no symptoms other than being able to see it in the mirror.  Occasionally symptoms of redness, irritation, and dryness may develop which can often be managed with lubricating over the counter (OTC) eye drops.  Occasionally prescription eye drops containing medicine are needed. If a pterygium continues to grow, causes blurred vision or symptoms of persistent irritation, it can be removed.  Many removal techniques have been developed; however, current research indicates a specific technique known as P.E.R.F.E.C.T. for Pterygium® (Pterygium Extended Removal Followed by Extended Conjunctival Transplant) is the most effective method in preventing recurrence and delivering superb cosmetic results. 

Few eye surgeons utilize this technique as it is technically challenging and more time consuming than other techniques.  At Alabama Eye & Cataract Center, we utilize the P.E.R.F.E.C.T. technique as we believe the results are worth the time and effort. If you or someone you know would like to learn more about Pterygium or the various treatment options, please schedule an appointment with Birmingham Corneal Specialists Marc Michelson, M.D. or Tyler Hall, M.D. at Alabama Eye & Cataract Center by calling 205-930-0930.