A pterygium is a wedge-shaped growth of tissue that extends from the corner of the eye towards the pupil. It often becomes red and inflamed, causing irritation. A pterygium is caused by sun exposure and is very common in surfers, and people who work outdoors.
Pinguecula is a similar condition that often gets mistaken for a pterygium. A pinguecula is a pinkish-white growth on the white part of the eye that looks like a small lump close to the cornea at 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock position. Pinguecula can cause irritation but is otherwise harmless. It is important not to mistake a cancerous lesion for a pinguecula.
Both a pterygium and a pinguecula can be treated with lubricating drops if the irritation is mild and infrequent. The reasons to remove the lesion surgically include:
1. irritation/redness that does not respond to eye drops
2. blurry vision caused by change of corneal curvature
3. difficulty with wearing contact lenses
4. concerns about the appearance of the eye
In the past, pterygium surgery used to be painful to recover from and the risk of recurrence used to be significant. With out sutureless pterygium surgery technique, the recovery is quick with minimal or no discomfort.