Pterygium Surgery: What to Expect
Pterygium removal surgery eliminates the abnormal tissue from the cornea and sclera (white of the eye).
The older, standard surgical technique left a bare hole in the conjunctiva (the surface of the eye) where the pterygium was removed. Unfortunately, this led to a high rate of pterygium regrowth.
A newer technique fills the gap in the conjunctiva left by the removal of the pterygium with a graft of tissue removed from under the eyelid. This graft is then stitched in place. A downside of this approach is that the stitches can cause discomfort while the eye heals. This healing period can last for weeks.
The latest advance in pterygium removal surgery does away with the stitches altogether. The “no-stitch” autograft surgery (the tissue is an “autograft” because you donate it to yourself) uses a special kind of surgical glue made of clotting proteins found in human blood. There’s little discomfort, the rate of recurrence is low, and patients are usually back to work within two days of surgery.
Advances have also been made in the treatment of recurrent, aggressive ptergyia. To improve the results of surgery, Dr. Sandy T. Feldman administers medication during the procedure. This adjuvant medical therapy reduces the growth of the abnormal cells. Additionally, if a lot of scar tissue prevents normal tissue even under the eyelid (the site where the graft is typically harvested), amniotic membrane grafts can be used instead of your own tissue. These techniques allow for successful removal and a reduction of recurrence rates in almost everyone!