A pterygium is a benign growth on the surface of the eye usually at the 3:00 o’clock or 9:00 o’clock positions on the cornea. They can become irritated and inflammed. The biggest concern, however, is that they can grow across the sight of the eye permanently scarring the underlying cornea. When it is determined that they are beginning to be a threat to the vision or if they cause recurrent and aggravating irritation, they are best removed.
Removal is complicated by the fact that these growths often recur. Sometimes the regrowth can be surprisingly rapid. Surgical techniques have been developed to try to reduce the likelihood of reoccurance.
The surgical technique involves first “skinning” back the growth toward the white part of the eye. It is then excised. The bed where it was growing is then smoothed with a diamond burr. There is ineveitably an open area left where the tissue was excised. This opening is then covered with either a free graft of conjunctival tissue harvested from the surface of the same eye in another area or a piece of freeze dried amniotic membrane tissue which is commercially available.
Once the graft or amniotic membrane has been sized, it can be secured into position with either tissue adhesive (glue) or sutures. The use of a free conjunctival graft or amniotic membrane has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of recurrence.