Pterygium is a painless, non-cancerous growth of the conjunctiva, the lining that covers the white part of the eye. The pterygium may grow on the cornea, which covers the iris, the colored part of the eye. In mild cases of pterygium, artificial tears can be used to reduce the dryness and irritation it causes.
For patients with severe cases of pterygium and whose vision has been affected, surgery known as a pterygiectomy is the only way to definitely remove this growth. This may be achieved through two different types of surgical procedures, either using tissue taken from another part of your body or an amniotic membrane graft.
Autologous Conjunctival Auto-Grafting
Autologous conjunctival auto-grafting is a safe and effective technique to surgically remove a pterygium. The pterygium is removed as well as the conjunctival tissue covering the sclera. Tissue is removed from the inside of the patient’s upper eyelid to replace the tissue that is removed from the sclera.
Amniotic Membrane Graft (AMG)
Amniotic membrane graft (AMG) is another safe and effective procedure to remove a pterygium. Tissue is removed from an inner layer of the human placenta and is used to reconstruct the surface of the eye. This type of graft encourages healing and reduces swelling.
Mytomycin C, or MMC, is a chemical agent that inhibits the production of scar tissue. It can lower the odds of pterygia growing again. This is important since pterygia typically have a recurrence rate between 30 and 40 percent. In cases of recurring pterygia, MMC may be applied to the eye during a pterygiectomy, then thoroughly rinsed out. Since damage to the sclera or vision loss can be a complication of the application of MMC, it is essential to choose an experienced physician to perform this procedure.