Hello and welcome to Case of the Day. I’m Dr Croley and today we’re gonna discuss an interesting and very common case for us here in Florida. We saw a gentleman today with a growth on his eye and he had a Pterygium. And so Pterygiums are very common in Florida.
So, what is a Pterygium? A Pterygium is a growth from the white part of your eye over towards the clear part of your eye. So, what we’re looking at is this white part that’s called the sclera and over the top of this sclera is a coating that contains many blood vessels that you see on the surface of your eye called the conjunctiva. And so due to sun exposure, wind, grit, dirt, sand, maybe dry eyes as well contributes to that. It causes this tissue to proliferate and grow over towards your pupil on the clear part of your eye, on the cornea.
A lot of people complain that the eye is sore, irritated, they get inflamed, the eye gets red and and if this grows far enough towards your pupil, then they can grow into the pupil and scar that area of your cornea then lead to loss of vision. So you don’t want to let it to get to that point. So many times we have to remove these growths because they get towards the pupil and we have to stop it so it does not interfere with the vision.
Also, a lot of people complain that they’re very painful and we remove them for that reason and occasionally also for cosmetic reasons. A young lady who has a growth eye was very conscious about it and we removed the growth for that reason. So like I said, basically, due to sun exposure, someone who starts getting something like this, sort of a cousin to this called a Pingueculum or Pinguecula is where the growth is just still on the white part of the eye, you should start wearing wraparound-type sunglasses, always lubricate your eye with artificial tears to keep it calmed down and lubricated and that is your best bet from having this growth to continue to progress.
There’s different variety of procedures to take care of these. Basically, what we’re doing is removing that growth and then there’s other things to do to keep this from coming back ‘cause that sun-damaged area tissue’s still there and will grow right back if we don’t do something to that.
Years ago there’s beta radiation that’s applied to the eye to try to kill those cells so they would not hyper-proliferate and come back. We don’t really use that very often anymore. If you just remove that growth and do nothing else then very likely it will grow back. So some techniques involved taking that growth off and taking another piece of the conjunctiva either up or below which is not exposed to the sun and that part of the conjunctiva is normal and then removing that conjunctiva from that area and then transplanting it or grafting it up to the area where the Pterygium was, and that is a very successful technique.
Another technique is we remove the growth and apply a cancer drug called Mitomycin C and that keeps the proliferation and growth from coming back. And there’s other things such as…we can do different kinds of grafts so there’s AmnioGrafts. So there’s different things that can work as well. So, they’re fairly common. They’re more common in people who work outdoors, more common in people who live in the South or sunny regions, and tennis players, professional golfers, commercial fishermen, farmers – all these kinds of people get these things.
So if your job is outdoors, you spend a lot of time outdoors, protect your eyes because you don’t want this to proliferate and start growing because they are painful. And the postoperative period and afterwards is fairly painful and long drawn out sometimes so the best thing is prevention.
So if you have any questions about a Pterygium, you can contact us through the website. If not, may God bless you with healthy eyes and great vision.