In cases when there are no symptoms and the pterygium is not cosmetically significant, it can be left alone. When the pterygium causes irritation, redness or discomfort, artificial tears can help moisturise the eye and relieve the discomfort. Eye drops, however, will not affect the growth of the pterygium.
When the pterygium affects vision, causes persistent irritation or discomfort, surgical removal is recommended. The surgery involves removing the fleshy growth and transplanting a translucent patch of conjunctiva over the area to reduce the risk of the pterygium growing back (recurrence). This patch of conjunctiva is usually from one's own eye (a conjunctival autograft), and the autograft can be secured with sutures or with the use of fibrin glue (sutureless). The autograft may be harvested manually or assisted by laser.
Complications of pterygium surgery are uncommon, but can include infection, scarring or thinning of the surgical site. The most common complication is recurrence. Fortunately, the risk of pterygium recurrence following surgical removal and a conjunctival autograft (our gold standard for pterygium surgery) is low (less than 5%).
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