What Is Pterygium?

Pterygium, pronounced “ter-ridge-ee-um”, is scar growing onto the front of the eye causing redness, irritation, discomfort and loss of sight. It can lead to social and aesthetic concerns like accusation of being tired, drunk or on drugs.

Pterygium is more common as UV light increases, and the extreme UV conditions in Australia places outdoor workers, roofers, surfers and skiers at greatest risk, but it can also occur after injury, previous surgery, or with immune disease. Viruses like HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) may be present in the pterygium and increase the risk that it becomes cancerous.

When Do I Need Surgery?

There are many reasons to recommend pterygium removal, including:

  • vision loss
  • a change in glasses prescription
  • pain
  • redness
  • discomfort
  • social concerns
  • if it looks cancerous
  • before cataract surgery
  • for aesthetic reasons – pterygia are unsightly.

If surgery is needed, have a look at our Philosophy of Surgery.

Preventing Pterygium

The old cliché, “the best treatment is prevention” has truth. Protect from UV light damage with full wrap-around eye protection at all times , even when walking down the street even in winter…there is a LOT of UV out there.

Vaccinations can work: get vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus with Gardasil to reduce the risk of getting cancer. Ask your GP about the vaccine.