The Sun, the Wind, the Pterygium
Living in Chicago, we’re no strangers to wind. And we spend plenty of sunny days either out on Lake Michigan in a sailboat or on a frozen lake playing hockey.
Either way, when you combine UV exposure and wind what you can end up with a condition known as pterygium.
We treat pterygium at Millennium Park Eye Center.
What is pterygium?
Pterygium is an eye condition that affects people who spend a great deal of time outdoors. It involves the growth of pink, fleshy tissue on the conjunctiva (white part of the eye), usually on the side toward the nose. The exact cause of pterygium is unknown, but it is thought that excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, dust, wind, sand, and humidity are behind it. Put those together and you see why the colloquial name for this condition is Surfer’s Eye. In Chicago we have most of the same conditions, short of surf.
Pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that can develop slowly over time and may not present a threat to the patient’s eyesight, unless it covers the pupil of the eye. We may use eye drops and ointments to relieve irritation and reduce redness is less severe cases of pterygium. But sometimes the growth will interfere with the patient’s eyesight. In these cases we use surgery to treat the condition.
What is pterygium surgery?
The team at Millennium Park Eye Center uses surgery to remove pterygium tissue growth on the white of the eye. This surgery formerly resulted in a hole on the surface of the conjunctiva that made it likely to regrow pterygium again in the future. But now, a tissue graft taken from the underside of the eyelid corrects this problem.
For pterygium surgery, the patient is placed under local anesthesia — both light oral sedation and local anesthesia on the eye itself. Then the pterygium is excised along with a portion of the surrounding conjunctival tissue. Next the area where the growth was removed is then scraped with a blade and an abrasive burr to remove any remaining vascular attachments that may remain where the growth was. Then the graft is taken and placed on the excision site. It is placed with an adhesive mixture, usually thrombin and fibrinogen<
Pterygium surgery at Millennium Park Eye Center only takes 30 to 45 minutes. Afterwards, you’ll need to wear a protective eye shield for the next two days. It will be four or five days before you can return to work and a few weeks before strenuous exercise or labor should be attempted. You’ll have to avoid things such as lifting that increase blood pressure to the face
Do you have a growth on the white of your eye? It could be thanks to all those days out on Lake Michigan, and it could be pterygium. Call us at Millennium Park Eye Center, (312) 996-2020, and let’s check it out.