PTERYGIUM FAQS

What will my eye look like after surgery?


If there is no recurrence, it is highly likely that within 6 months after the surgery, you will probably not be able to tell which eye has had surgery. If this surgery is on a pterygium that has already been removed, the cosmetic result may not be as good. However, you will still be left with visible normal blood vessels in the area that are vital to the health of the eye.




Can my pterygium blind me?


It is highly unlikely that your pterygium could blind you but if it is neglected and grows it can seriously interfere with vision.




Is a pterygium some form of cancer?


This is not a cancer but in about 10% of pterygia there may be some findings that suggest a pre-cancerous change when the specimen removed at surgery is looked at by the pathologist. This does not mean that cancer will develop later on but reflects the excessive exposure to sunlight that is common to the development of pterygium and to cancer on the surface of the eye. This also explains why all pterygium specimens are sent to a pathology laboratory. You will receive an account from a pathology laboratory after the surgery. It is very unlikely that this finding will be of significance to you as most likely the precancerous change has been removed by the pterygium removal. If a lump developed on the nose side of the eye in the decades to come, it could be a recurrence of the precancerous change, rather than the pterygium coming back.




Is a pterygium the same as a cataract?


No, a cataract is an aging change that affects the focussing lens inside the eye. A pterygium is a change on the surface of the eye and is frequently found in much younger people.




Will removal of my pterygium improve my vision?


If your pterygium is causing a distortion of your cornea (crystal window of your eye) it is possible that your vision may improve after successful surgery and as a result you will almost certainly need new glasses. Sometimes, scarring and distortion of the cornea may persist after even successful surgery with no recurrence of your pterygium.




Other members of my family have pterygia. Is it hereditary?


Is unlikely that typical pterygia are inherited. However, family members frequently are exposed to similar amounts of sunlight and this may be the reason why other members have a pterygium.




How long does the surgery take?


If this is the first removal of your pterygium, it will take about one hour.




What are the risks that the pterygium will return after surgery?


There is approximately a rate of 0.1% (1 in a thousand) recurrence after removal of a pterygium that has not been operated on before. If the pterygium has already been removed by another surgeon, the recurrence rate is approximately 1%.




If I wear sunglasses after my pterygium removal, will this prevent the pterygium from coming back?


There is no evidence that wearing sunglasses after the surgery will affect the likelihood of the pterygium recurring. However, it is advisable to wear sunglasses anyway, to reduce the exposure of both of your eyes to sunlight exposure, and hopefully reduce the risk of developing cataracts and cancer on the surface of the eye at a later age. Both of these diseases are strongly related to sunlight exposure over many decades of life.




Is there a risk of infection?


There is always a very small risk of infection which is the reason that you will be placed on antibiotic eye drops for a week and asked to wear a sterile patch for showering or when entering a dirty environment for the first 2 weeks. Infection later than 2 weeks after surgery is very uncommon.




Will I be restricted in what I can do after the surgery?


You will not be able to swim for about a month. You may have difficulty driving or working for a few days to a week because of temporary double vision and irritation.




Will I need to take time off work after the surgery?


Yes, you will require approximately 1- 2 weeks off work after the surgery and we will provide you with a medical certificate for your employer if required, the day after your surgery.




How long will significant pain last?


Pain can last between 1-3 days. You can take over the counter pain killers to ease the pain.




How long will it take for the redness to resolve?


Usually the redness will be gone within 4 weeks, although sometimes some blood or bruising on the white of the eye may persist for 6-8 weeks.




How long will the irritation last?


This will usually be gone by 2-4 weeks.




How long will the eyelids be swollen?


The swelling is usually resolved within 2-3 weeks.




Will I need to change my glasses after the surgery?


Yes you will need to change your glasses 8 weeks after having the surgery. By this time the vision should be stable enough for you to be given a new prescription.





Location to Ashton Clinic