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Pterygium is a sun scar or growth over the cornea at the front of the eye. The growth is often in the inner corner and in some instances is mistaken as a cataract.
The cause of pterygium is purely due to sun exposure and in Australia is very common.
Pterygium can cause the eye to become red and inflammed, at times painfully so. Cosmetically they can grow quite large and in some instances can obstruct vision.
Conservative therapy such lubricating eyedrops and sunglasses while outside can help, but not always.
Once a pterygium is causing problems and especially beyond 3mm onto the cornea, they need to be removed surgically.
Surgery involves local anaesthetic with sedation, usually as a day stay patient. The pterygium is peeled from the cornea and then a graft of skin from the eye surface is taken and placed where the pterygium came from. A graft is used to reduce recurrences.
Afterwards drops are used for about one month to let the operation heal. Once healed the eye returns to a normal appearance.
Historically the operation had been quite painful but today with improved anaesthetics and improved surgery techniques most people have little or minimal discomfort.