Pterygium Surgery

For general information regarding pteryia, please click here.

What is the treatment for pterygium?

Whilst eye drops may reduce the symptoms, the only curative therapy is surgery. Surgery is usually performed as day surgery under local anaesthetic. Almost always, you will also be given some sedation by the anaesthetist. Occasionally patients will have a full general anaesthetic.

During the surgery, the pterygium is removed. In order to reduce the risk of the pterygium growing back, a small conjunctival graft is taken from under the upper eyelid is inserted into the bed of the pterygium. The conjunctival graft can be sutured into place, or glued. Most patients prefer the glue as it provides a better cosmetic outcome and is significantly more comfortable compared to sutures.

After the procedure is completed, an eye patch will be applied for your comfort. Approximately 1 hour after the operation, you will be given information about your aftercare and will able to leave the hospital.

After the operation you will need to regularly use anti-inflammatory eye drops for at least one month.

Below is an illustration of how a pterygium excision is performed. Note the conjunctival graft from under the upper eyelid covering the excision site.

How long do I need off work?

We recommend taking at least one week off work following the surgery.

What happens after surgery?

Usually you will go home after the surgery with a pad over the eye. Do NOT rub the eye. The next day, you should remove the pad and gently clean the eye. You should then start taking the prescribed eye drops.

After the operation you will experience some pain in your eye, especially when blinking. The pain is normal after the operation and may be helped with simple analgesics, such as paracetamol, Naprosyn, etc. Some patients find eye patching helps reduce pain. The pain should be gone in a few days.

Your eye will look red for several weeks, sometimes a couple of months. This will gradually diminish with time.

Your vision may be blurry for several weeks after the operation. This is usually due to a change in the prescription of the eye. This can occur due to a change in the shape of the eye after surgery. Generally this gets better on its own, but occasionally a change in glasses or contact lenses will be required.

What are the risks?

Generally speaking, pterygium surgery is safe, however, as with any operation, there are some risks.

The most common complication with pterygium surgery is regrowth. The risk of this occurring is less than 1 in 40 (2.5%). If it does occur, usually it is mild, and no further surgery is required. In rare cases a recurrent pterygium may need to be removed again.

There is also a risk that the conjunctival graft may dislodge (therefore don’t rub your eye after the surgery) and a risk of infection.

As mentioned above, after the pterygium is removed, the shape to the cornea may change. Since the focussing of the eye is dependent on the shape of the cornea, it is common to notice some transient blurred vision for several weeks following the surgery. Occasionally this may require you change your glasses if the blurred vision persists.

It is extremely rare for pemanent loss of vision to occur following pterygium surgery.

If you would like to make an appointment for pterygium surgery, please click here.

Dr Joshua Yuen

Dr Joshua is an experienced consultant ophthalmic surgeon, who specialises in retinal diseases and cataract surgery... read more

Dr Brad Johnson

Dr Johnson is an experienced consultant ophthalmic surgeon, who specialises in retinal diseases and cataract surgery... read more