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What is the treatment for pterygium (Surfer's Eye)?

So, a pterygium is essentially a growth

that occurs across the surface of the eye.

And these are actually quite common growths

that we find here in Australia,

where we have a lot of UV exposure from the sun.

It's often called the Surfer's Eye,

because it's often seen in individuals

that do a lot of surfing in the ocean.

What happens with a pterygium is that you get this growth

growing across the cornea,

and this can actually damage the vision as it gets close

to the pupil margin and into the visual axis of the patient.

The way we treat pterygium surgery these days

is to remove it and most surgeons will

recommend the patient receive an autograft,

which is a little bit of tissue from the surface of the eye,

and that reduces the risk of the pterygium coming back

by a factor of 97%.

One of the newer techniques in pterygium surgery,

is to apply the little graft on the eye with tissue glue,

the special type of glue

that we use in the operating theatre.

And that minimises post-operative discomfort

because we don't have to perform any stitching

on the surface of the eye.

And the cosmetic result is actually very, very good.

I have been performing this technique over a few years now

and I'm very happy with the results.

The risk of pterygium surgery is actually very, very low

because it's a procedure that involves

treating the surface of the eyes.

We don't actually enter the eye,

we simply clean that area on the surface of the eye.

And like most medical procedures,

there's a very small risk of infection or bleeding,

but we do give patients antibiotics for a few days

and that helps to settle the eye down.

The best time to have a pterygium removed,

is when the pterygium is showing signs of growth

across the cornea.

And the patients are able to see that.

They examine themselves in the mirror –

they can actually see a white spot forming

and developing on the cornea.

Some patients complain that they've got a gritty eye,

an uncomfortable eye,

and that they have individuals,

friends making a comment about

"What is that spot on your eye?"

And that's the best time really to intervene medically

and have the pterygium removed.