Op. Dr. Hulya Bolu | Pterygium and Its Treatment

Pterygium and Its Treatment

Pterygium is the extension that occurs in the conjunctival membrane that covers the sclera layer, that is, the white part of our eye. In people with pterygium, the conjunctival layer may enlarge and spread to cover the cornea. This eye problem, which normally causes relatively tolerable complaints such as eye watering, stinging and redness, can also damage vision as a result of spreading towards the pupil. Spending a lot of time outdoors, being exposed to the sun’s UV rays and being male are among the risk factors for Pterygium. Pterygium treatment; It is determined as a result of the evaluation of the dynamics such as the patient’s complaints, aesthetic concerns and whether the vision is affected. It can affect one or both eyes. For this reason, it is beneficial for patients who experience pterygium symptoms to see their ophthalmologist without wasting time.


What is Pterygium?


The “conjunctiva” is a transparent, very thin membrane that covers the front surface of the eye and part of the inner surface of the eyelids. Their duties are to keep the surface of the eye clean, to moisten the inner surface of the eyelids for easy opening and closing of the eyelids, to protect the eye from infections and to nourish the eyes and eyelids with the fine blood vessels they contain.


Pterygium can also be defined as an eye problem that is characterized by the extension of the conjunctival layer, and treatment options should be evaluated with the deterioration of vision, rather than aesthetic problems as it grows.


What Causes Pterygium?


Since pterygium is an eye problem whose cause is not fully known, it would be a more accurate approach to talk about pterygium risk factors. Pterygium usually occurs in people who are exposed to too much ultraviolet rays from the sun. Spending a lot of time outdoors on sunny days is considered the most important factor that increases the risk of pterygium.


It is known that substances irritating to the eye mucosa such as wind, dust, pollen, sand and cigarette smoke, in addition to sun rays, increase the risk of pterygium formation.


Gender also plays an important role among the pterygium risk factors. There is a consensus that the risk of pterygium increases, especially in men between the ages of 20 and 40.


What Are the Symptoms of Pterygium?


  • Although pterygium does not cause complaints in everyone, the most common pterygium symptoms can be listed as follows:
  • Burning in eyes
  • Foreign body sensation in the eyes
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Blurred vision


These symptoms occur when the pterygium has not yet spread to the cornea. When the pterygium begins to cover the cornea, it can damage the eye’s refractive mechanism and reduce the quality of vision. Patients using contact lenses may stop using lenses due to the discomfort they feel due to the progression of pterygium.


Pterygium is not an eye problem that creates serious problems in general. However, although rare, it can cause scarring of the cornea. Damage to the cornea can cause vision loss.


Before the pterygium appears, a problem called “pinguecula” can meet with. Pinguecula is a yellow spot on the white part of the eye, mostly between the eye and the nose. The appearance of this yellow spot, which can cause complaints such as stinging and burning, is caused by the formation of adipose tissue on the front of the eye.


Ptergium Surgery


In order to apply for surgery in the treatment of pterygium, it is essential that the patient has a problem with his vision. However, since this eye problem can also cause aesthetic problems, surgery can be put on the agenda depending on the preferences of the patients.


There are different techniques used in pterygium surgery, but not all surgical alternatives are equally effective. The “conjunctival autograft method”, which offers high comfort, should be preferred in order to prevent the disease from recurring after pterygium surgery.


In the conjunctival autograft method, the flesh tissue spreading to the conjunctiva is removed, and the healthy tissue taken from under the upper eyelid is patched to the area. During this procedure, the patch tissue is placed on the area using tissue adhesive, not by stitching. Since there is no stitching, the recovery period of the patients is shorter and the comfort of the patient is preserved.


The success rate of pterygium surgery with autograft is quite high and the probability of recurrence of the disease after pterygium surgery performed with this method is very low.


What Should Be Done to Prevent Pterygium Formation?


Pterygium, which is expressed as a benign extension in the conjunctival layer of the eye, usually occurs as a result of exposure to sunlight and eye-irritating particles. Therefore, it may be possible to prevent pterygium or at least reduce the risk of pterygium by taking simple precautions.


  • You can use sunglasses that protect the eyes against UV rays.
  • You can wear a hat in addition to sunglasses when you go out on sunny days.
  • You can try to stay away from chemicals, dust, wind, and cigarette smoke that irritate your eyes.
  • If your working environment has conditions that will harm your eye health, you should wear protective glasses.


FAQ About Pterygium

What Are the Symptoms of Pterygium?

While the symptoms of pterygium are initially limited to eye redness, watering, burning, stinging and foreign body sensation, it may also cause symptoms such as decreased vision and double vision due to the progression of the pterygium towards the cornea.

Is Surgery Necessary If Pterygium Doesn't Affect Vision?

The most important factor in deciding on pterygium surgery is the decrease in vision. However, it is also possible for this eye problem to cause aesthetic concerns. For this reason, even if their vision does not decrease, eyelid surgery can be performed on patients who are aesthetically uncomfortable, if their general health conditions are suitable.

Does pterygium go away on its own?

Pterygium does not go away on its own, but complaints such as stinging, burning and foreign body sensation may disappear over time. Pterygium surgery is necessary for the complete disappearance of the pterygium. Surgery can be performed if patients have limited vision or aesthetic concerns.

Is Occupation Effective in Pterygium Formation?

Yes, it is known that spending time outdoors on sunny days, being exposed to eye-irritating particles and sun rays increases the risk of pterygium formation. Therefore, I can say that professions where you have to spend time outside on sunny days and working in environments with particles that threaten eye health can cause pterygium.

Is Pterygium Treatment With Medication?

Creams and eye drops are used in the treatment of pterygium. However, these treatment methods do not eliminate the enlargement of the flesh in the eye, they only provide relief from the complaints caused by the enlargement of the flesh in the eye.

Does Pterygium Recur?

One of the biggest concerns of patients considering pterygium surgery is the recurrence of this problem. Pterygium is a reoccurring problem, but this risk can be minimized if the correct surgical technique is preferred. Pterygium surgery with autograft (conjunctival autograft) provides a great advantage in preventing pterygium recurrence.