Typically used to treat:




What is Pterygium?

Pterygium is a growth of the conjunctiva that grows onto the cornea.  The conjunctiva is the clear tissue that covers the sclera (the white part of the eye) and also lines the inside of the eyelids.  The exact cause of Pterygium is unknown, but many associate it with excessive exposure to wind, ultra-violet rays (typically from the sun), and/or sand.

The thickening of the conjunctiva is initially a Pinguecula.  The size of a Pinguecula can vary and in some cases it spreads to the cornea and can affect vision.  When a Pinguecula spreads to the cornea and begins to affect vision, it is now considered Pterygium and should be removed.

Pterygium can cause redness of the eyes, tearing, itching, swelling and overall irritation, as well as obstruct vision.

Pterygium occurs in about 10-15% of Americans in the United States.  (Saw SM, Tan D. Pterygium: prevalence, demography and risk factors. Ophthalmic Epidemiol. Sep 1999;6(3):219-28.)

How does Pterygium excision work?

Step 1:  Anesthetic drops are used to numb the eye, which is held open throughout the procedure to prevent blinking.

Step 2:  Pterygia is removed, clearing up the cornea.

Step 3:  The area in which the Pterygia has been removed is filled with a transplant of tissue that is painlessly removed from the conjunctiva, using a no-stitches auto-graft (self-transplant) technique.

Step 4:  The eye is covered with a patch overnight.

Step 5:  Topical antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops and/or ointment should be applied.  The eye will gradually return to its normal appearance over the next 2-3 weeks.


What are the benefits of Pterygium excision?

Although Pterygia can be removed for cosmetic reasons, a patient interested in Pterygium removal typically has vision obstruction, and will have the Pterygia removed due to functional vision purposes or discomfort.

Many individuals may become self-conscious of the growth even before it has any affect on their vision.  Pterygia and Pinguecula can be yellowish as it grows and can become quite noticeable on the sclera of the eye.  Removal of it for purely cosmetic reasons can have a significant benefit, including an increase in self-confidence and one’s ability to interact with others.

From a functional standpoint, excision will remove the growth from the cornea and provide the freedom to enjoy clearer vision.  Pterygium growth on the cornea can also potentially obscure the optical center of the cornea, causing more serious problems such as inducing astigmatism and/or corneal scarring.

The use of the autograft technique provides a much shorter procedure time and decreases the length of the healing period.  Using this technique also reduces the risk of Pterygium recurrence.

Who is a candidate for Pterygium excision?

  • Healthy
  • At least 21 years or older

There may be times when IQ Laser Vision may need to turn away patients because they are not a good candidate for the procedure because our number one concern is not the number of patients we bring in but the quality of care and high level of service we provide.  That is why it is important to come in for our FREE CONSULTATION, in order for IQ Laser Vision to determine your candidacy and provide the best vision correction options for you.


What can you expect?

After the procedure, medical therapy consists of Over-The-Counter lubricating eye drops, as-needed short-term anti-inflammatory drops, and/or preservative-free ointments.  Patients report minor discomfort after the procedure but typically discontinues after a couple of days.  Most patients are able to resume full activity within 48 hours of the procedure.  The eye will typically return to its normal appearance 2-3 weeks after the procedure.

Patients at a higher risk of Pterygium may consider wearing a hat with a brim, as well as UV-blocking glasses/sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sunlight.

What are the risks of Pterygium excision?

Because the exact cause of Pterygium is unclear, reoccurrence may occur after removal.  Some other risks may include:

  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Scarring of the conjunctiva or cornea
  • Certain medical conditions may increase the risks, such as:
    • Glaucoma
    • Thyroid disease
    • High Blood Pressure

All risks are discussed and addressed before, during and after the procedure.  IQ Laser Vision is dedicated to answering any and all questions you may have to ensure complete conformability and proper expectations with the procedure.


FAQ's about Pterygium

Q: Will I feel any pain during my Pterygium excision?

A:  No.  Prior to the procedure your eyes will be thoroughly numbed with topical anesthetic eye drops so you won’t feel a thing during the procedure.  A variety of anti-anxiety techniques are also available, should you need them.

Q: How soon after my procedure can I return back to work?

A:  Most patients are able to return back to work within 1-2 days, depending on your occupation.  Physical activity and exercise should be completely avoided for 2 weeks to decrease the risk or swelling and irritation.

Q: Is the result of Pterygium excision permanent?

A:  Once removed it is difficult to determine whether or not it will reoccur.  Even with cutting-edge techniques, the recurrence rate may be as high as 35%.  IQ Laser Vision will provide valuable day-to-day practices that will decrease your chances of recurrence.

Q: Will I look ‘normal’ after the procedure?

A:  The eye is typically red for about 7-14 days after the procedure.  Depending on the patient, after 2-3 weeks your eye will gradually return to its normal appearance.  Once healed, most of the time there are no visible scars from the procedure.

Q: Will I be able to wear my contacts after the surgery?

A:  Generally, contact lenses should not be worn for at least 2 weeks after surgery, although it depends on the extent of your procedure.  Dr. Lin will provide final clearance for you to wear your contact lenses.

Q: Will my insurance company pay for my Pterygium excision?

A:  Many Pterygium excisions are done for cosmetic purposes and are typically an elective procedure.  If the Pterygium interferes with you field of vision, the procedure may be deemed “medically necessary” and some insurance plans may cover a portion, if not all, of the procedure.  IQ Laser Vision will check with your insurance carrier to determine their coverage.