What is a Pterygium?

A pterygium is a piece of tissue (usually triangular) which grows from the conjunctiva (a thin membrane that covers the eye) onto the cornea (the clear central part of the eye). Usually from the inner corner of the eye closest to the nose.

Causes of a Pterygium:

The exact cause of pterygium is unknown but the development of pterygium is strongly linked with exposure to the sun and hot, dry environments. Pterygiums are common in people that have lived in Central Australia, are keen surfers, farmers and people who spend a lot of time outdoors.


A pterygium usually cause the sufferer similar symptoms to dry eye.

  • itching
  • redness
  • irritation
  • watering eyes
  • foreign body sensation


As pterygiums occur commonly in people who have had more than normal exposure to ultraviolet lights, its recommended that everyone be sun smart wearing hats and sunglasses with broad sides to protect the eyes from the sunlight.

While sometimes particular lubricating drops may help the symptoms of a pterygium its recommended that you have a surgical procedure to remove the pterygium from the cornea. The surgeon may supplement the operation with a conjunctival autograft or a Mitomycin C application to reduce the risk of a regrowth.

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