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Eyelid Disorders

Pterygium

Benign, Wedge Shaped Growth

A pterygium is a benign, wedge shaped growth consisting of conjunctival tissue that extends onto the cornea.

Some become inflamed and red at times, while others may be large and/or thick, causing discomfort or interfering with vision. Generally, however, it may be safely left alone. It is not a cancer, nor will it develop into a cancer.

Pterygia are more likely to develop in people who spend a lot of time in the sun. The actual cause is unknown, however genetic factors may feature, as pterygia can run in families. Many need no treatment.

Pterygium *

* All photographs were taken by Dr Davies and are used with the written permission of his patients.

Treatment

Surgical removal is advisable in cases where:

  • Redness due to numerous blood vessels in the pterygium makes the eye look bloodshot. (Topical medications can reduce this temporarily);
  • The leading edge of the pterygium pulls the cornea, distorting its shape causing astigmatism;
  • Normal vision is threatened by a large pterygium growing over the pupil;
  • Persistent irritation, tearing and discomfort are experienced;
  • Pterygium interferes with the wearing of contact lenses;
  • Appearance of pterygium is unsightly.
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