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What Is a Pterygium?

A pterygium (pronounced “tur-RIDGE-ee-um”) is a very common pink/red growth that extends form the whites of the eye onto the colored part of the eye. It is caused by long-term exposure to sunlight, especially as a child. Almost all pterygia are non-cancerous. Rarely some growths represent squamous carcinoma–or a local growing cancer. If you have a pterygium that is growing or changing over time you should be seen by an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon).

Most pterygia can be be watched. If it irritates your eye or makes it red removal may be warranted. The procedure is usually covered by insurance. When a pterygium grows it may begin to affect vision. Sometimes even small ones can affect vision by distorting the shape of the eye. We recommend considering removal if it is irritating, bothersome, or is changing or growing over time. If you think your vision is affected it is important to have it removed in a timely fashion.

How Is It Treated?

Most pterygia do not require treatment. If they cause irritation or redness lubricating drops and/or topical steroids may be very helpful.

A pterygium can also be surgically removed. Newer techniques have proven to make the procedure dramatically more comfortable, successful, and cosmetically pleasing. The procedure takes only a few minutes and is typically done in the OR. If the procedure is done well most do not grow back. However, even with a good surgery about 5% will recur. To prevent this use your medicated eye drops as prescribed. Your drops are important. It is also important to be seen regularly for up to three months or more out from surgery.

If you would like an exam or have one removed call to set up an appointment. We look forward to helping you!

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Brimhall Eye Center Northwest Las Vegas Office

Meet Our Counselors

Deciding between treatment options is hard. It’s really hard. That’s why we have a team of counselors to help you weigh your options and choose which surgery or treatment is best for you.

After you meet with one of our eye doctors, you’ll sit down with one of our counselors, Andrew, Lolita, or Char, and they will walk you through your doctor’s recommendations. Sometimes there are several options to choose between, and your counselor will show you what to expect from each and help you make a decision.

Schedule a consultation with our counselors today!