Pterygium Surgery

Pterygium Excision in Kauai County

Pterygium Surgery in Lihue, HI - Kauai Eye InstituteA pterygium, also called “surfer’s eye” here in the islands, is an abnormal growth of conjunctival tissue onto the cornea. This can be seen in the mirror as a fleshy growth, often in the nasal aspect of the eye.  This pterygium can become red, inflamed, itchy, and overall uncomfortable.  As it grows, it can also contribute to astigmatism and decreased vision.

Pterygium Causes

A pterygium is caused by exposure to UV light, wind, dust, and debris. Many pterygia are slow-growing and can be observed, but others progress quickly or cause significant irritation or decreased vision.

Pterygium Symptoms

  • Blurry vision
  • Irritation, “scratchy” feeling
  • Redness of the eye
  • Changing vision or eyeglass prescription.

Pterygium Treatments

When a pterygium is small, not irritating or visually significant, surgery is not necessary. Over-the-counter or prescription eye drops can be utilized to improve symptoms.  However, when a pterygium begins to grow in size, become increasingly irritated, or change the vision, surgery becomes necessary.  The surgery is a same-day, outpatient surgical procedure done at either Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital (KVMH) or Wilcox Memorial Hospital (WMH).  The pterygium is carefully removed and a conjunctival autograft is glued in the area of the excision.  This results in a nice cosmetic result and decreases the chance of a recurrent pterygium.

Old methods of pterygium excision were certainly quite painful and had a prolonged healing time. However, this newer method of surgery is pain-free during the surgery itself, and patients report much less discomfort during the postoperative healing period than with older methods of excision.

Pterygium is a common ocular condition, especially in areas where there is plenty of sunshine and UV light exposure (i.e. here in the Hawaii islands). It is a straightforward, extraocular procedure that can be completed in less than 15 minutes and may likely bring significant improvement of symptoms and discomfort.  In advanced cases of pterygia inducing astigmatism, surgical intervention can often improve vision.

If you are concerned you may have a pterygium, please schedule an evaluation with Dr. Yoo to discuss your current ocular condition and answer any questions about potential surgical excision. Call our office at (808) 378-9927