Pterygium Removal Surgery

What is Pterygium Removal Surgery?

It is a surgery to remove pterygium from the eye. Pterygia is a noncancerous growth on the conjunctiva (clear tissue covering the white part) of the eye. 

Some overgrowths of the conjunctiva tissue cause little or no hindrance. Severe overgrowth may shield the cornea and may obstruct the vision. In this case, the doctor will consider surgical removal of the pterygium. 

Before the procedure:

  • The patient is advised to have a light meal.

  • 24 hours before the procedure, the patient is not supposed to wear contact lenses.

  • The patient needs to plan for a ride back home post-surgery, as he/she may not be able to drive by himself or herself.

What is the procedure for Pterygium Removal Surgery?

It is an outpatient procedure, which takes around 30-45 minutes to be completed and involves minimal risk.

The doctor sedates the patient and numbs the area around the eye to be operated. 

The doctor then cuts the pterygium and a little extra tissue of the adjoining conjunctival tissue. Once removed, it is replaced with a graft of the related membrane tissue. This is to ensure that the pterygium does not grow again. 

The conjunctival tissue graft is secured by using fibrin glue or sutures. Dissolvable sutures are considered to be a yardstick method in this technique.

However, they are known to cause more discomfort and it takes a longer time to recover from them. Fibrin glue promises less inflammation and less discomfort. The resulting recovery period is cut to half, as compared to that required from dissolvable sutures.

However, fibrin glue is derived blood and it has the risk of carrying viral particles and other blood-related diseases. Also it is expensive of the two methods. 

  • Bare sclera technique: 

Only the part of the pterygium is removed and the exposed sclera (white) of the eye is left to heal by itself.

This is a more traditional technique, which reduces the risks associated with sutures and fibrin glue. However, the recurrence of pterygium is higher when this technique is used and the regrowth is usually larger in size.

What is the post surgery steps for Pterygium Removal Surgery?

After the procedure, the doctor positions an eye pad or patch to avoid any impact or infection. The patient is instructed to not rub the operated eye to avoid dislocation of the graft tissue. 

The doctor then instructs about the number and frequency of visits and directives for caring for the operated eye at home. He may prescribe antibiotics and painkillers.

The time taken for recovery ranges between a few weeks to months. This is heavily dependent on the technique used for the removal of pterygium. It is expected to have pain, redness and blurry vision associated with the surgery, which subsides as the graft begins to heal and integrate with the surrounding tissue.

If the patient experiences any increased discomfort, redness, or loss of vision, in the duration of recovery it should be brought to the notice of the operating doctor immediately. 

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