What does pterygium surgery involve?
Pterygium surgery is performed as Day Surgery (the patient returns home the same day).
Type of Anaesthesia:
Pterygium surgery can be performed under local anaesthesia (with sedation) or general anaesthesia. It is DrThen’s preference to perform this surgery under general anaesthesia, as she feels it is more comfortable for the patient.
Pterygium surgery involves the careful removal of the pterygium with a blade, including both the base (in the conjunctiva), and the tip (that is growing on the clear window of the eye). A blade or burr is used to gently smooth the corneal surface as much as possible to reduce corneal scarring and visual disturbance.
A healthy conjunctival graft is then taken from the same eye, in the area under the upper eyelid. This is inserted into the area where the pterygium was, and sutured or glued into place. These grafts improve the healing of the area, and reduce the risk of the pterygium growing back. Any sutures used are self-dissolving and do not have to be removed later.
An eye pad is placed on the eye after surgery, and worn overnight.
After the surgery:
Patients will be observed for 2 hours on the ward after surgery before being discharged home.
Patients will attend Dr Then’s rooms for a review the following day, to ensure there are no problems and that they are comfortable.
What to expect after pterygium surgery:
If sutures have been used for the graft during surgery, there will be some discomfort in the eye after surgery. This discomfort is usually a gritty, scratchy foreign-body sensation in the inner corner of the eye, and will be at its worst in the first few days, and usually subside within 1-2 weeks. The eye may water and vision may be mildly disturbed in this period also. The graft will appear red and swollen, particularly in the first few weeks after surgery. It can take months for the area to look white and clear.
Patients can generally see well enough to drive within a few days. Patients can generally return to work when comfortable, which is usually within the first week. This will however vary according to the degree of discomfort and visual disturbance that is experience by each patient.
What if I have a pterygium in both eyes?
Most people only need surgery to one pterygium at a time. Occasionally patients have bilateral significant pterygiums that warrant surgery. Dr Then will generally recommend that pterygium surgery is performed 4- 6 weeks apart to each eye. Bilateral simultaneous surgery is also possible, though patients will have significant discomfort in both eyes for 1-2 weeks after surgery, and this may have an impact on driving and returning to work.
What are the risks of pterygium surgery?
Pterygium surgery is generally a safe and low-risk procedure. However, it is not a risk-free procedure.
Common risks include:
- Movement of the graft
- Change in prescription of glasses due to corneal shape change
- Recurrence of pterygium
Uncommon and rare risks include:
- Penetration of eye (during suturing of the graft)
- Double vision (from disturbance of an underlying eye muscle)
These risks are extremely rare and can generally be treated if they occur.
Will the pterygium grow back?
The use of a graft will generally reduce long-term recurrence rates to <5%. However, patients are still encouraged to reduce further excessive sun exposure with the use of good sunglasses and a hat. [/av_textblock] [/av_cell_two_third][av_cell_one_third vertical_align='top' padding='0px' padding_sync='true' background_color='' src='' attachment='' attachment_size='' background_attachment='scroll' background_position='top left' background_repeat='no-repeat'] [av_sidebar widget_area='Sidebar Pages'] [/av_cell_one_third][/av_layout_row]