Pterygium or Web Eye

Pterygium is a benign or noncancerous growth that develops on the conjunctiva (clear, thin tissue covering the white part of the eye). This condition is commonly seen in people who spend a lot of time outdoors in sunny or windy environments such as farmers, fishermen and surfers. Pterygium usually manifests itself as a fleshy, pink wedge-shaped tissue on the white of the eye closest to the nose. It may develop in one or both eyes.

A pterygium is usually painless and does not cause any problems. However, in some cases it may cause extreme eye discomfort including itching, burning, redness, and blurred vision. Affected individuals may feel the presence of a foreign body in their eye. In rare cases, a pterygium may grow large to the extent of inhibiting vision.

Treatment of a pterygium depends on the nature of the symptoms. If the symptoms are mild, no treatment is recommended. However, if you experience severe discomfort and vision interference you may have to undergo surgery.

Pterygium excision with conjunctival auto graft

During this procedure, the pterygium is removed and the resulting gap is filled by surgically transplanting the patient’s own conjunctiva (surface eye tissue). Sutures or fibrin glue holds the graft in place. This graft not only acts as a covering for the affected area, but also as a barrier to recurrence. The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis or day surgery centre and takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

Risks and Complications

A pterygium may recur during the first 12 months following surgery. The recurrence risk associated with a conjunctival auto graft is about 5-10%. Other surgical complications include scarring and perforation of the cornea (clear, outer covering of the eye ball) and astigmatism (blurred vision).