by | Dec 18, 2017 |

A pterygium is a wedge-shaped piece of tissue that grows from the white part of the eye (the conjunctiva) onto the transparent surface of the eye (cornea). It typically starts growing on the side of the eye next to the nose, but it can also occur on the other side. It usually grows very slowly and but can also stop growing. A pterygium usually develops in someone who has been exposed to a lot of sunlight though exposure to wind and dust are also thought to contribute.


A pterygium is usually removed if:

  • It causes discomfort, affects vision, or is interfering with contact lens wear.
  • It is adversely affecting the intraocular lens measurements for cataract surgery.
  • It is affecting the patient’s appearance.

If it is small and causing no or minor symptoms, a pterygium can be left alone. It should be reviewed if it appears to be getting larger.


The pterygium is surgically removed from the cornea under local anaesthetic. The cornea underneath the pterygium is smoothed as much as possible. Sometimes the pterygium has caused permanent scarring of the cornea. Usually this does not affect vision as it is so far from the visual axis. Any scar tissue at the edges of where the pterygium sat is also removed. Then a small piece of conjunctiva (autograft) is lifted from the eyeball from under the upper eyelid and moved across the eye to cover the gap left by the excised pterygium. The piece of conjunctiva is either sutured or glued into place.


We advise the following aftercare following treatment:

  • Avoid getting water or shampoo in your eyes when washing. Dab gently with a towel if you do.
  • Do not swim in chlorinated water for one week and wear goggles when swimming thereafter.
  • Only return to driving when you can read a number plate from 70ft (20m) and exercise caution when you do.

There are no restrictions regarding aerobic and gymnastic activity and eye make-up can be used after surgery.

Detailed advice on aftercare will be made available to you following surgery and, if you are in any doubt, your vision can be checked on the Monday after surgery to check it is at driving standard.


Contact Details

Moorfields Private Outpatients Centre
9-11 Bath Street

King Edward VII Hospital
5-10 Beaumont St, Marylebone, London

T:0207 566 2603
M:07831 919 634

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