What is a Pterygium ?
A pterygium is a fleshy overgrowth of tissue from the white of the eye onto the clear cornea (“crystal window” of the eye). A pterygium usually forms as a result of excessive sun exposure during the early years of life, making them a common condition amongst young adults in Queensland. A pterygium may slowly grow with time, and as it does so it can extend across the cornea and affect vision.
If a pterygium is causing redness, inflammation, discomfort or interferes with vision, surgical removal may be recommended.
Pterygium surgery – What to expect
Dr Pappalardo uses the P.E.R.F.E.C.T. for PTERYGIUM® surgical technique, developed by Professor Lawrence Hirst. This method has transformed pterygium removal, reducing the recurrence rate from 10 to 15 percent to less than one percent. In addition to improving recurrence rates, this technique also optimises the cosmetic result that can be achieved.
Prior to your pterygium surgery, Dr Pappalardo will provide you with detailed information regarding the procedure, including what to expect during surgery and in the post-operative period. She will detail the risks and benefits of surgery for your particular situation. The surgery itself is performed as a day procedure, under sedation with the eye completely anaesthetised. The sedation and anaesthetic eye block will be performed by a qualified Specialist Anaesthetist, who will also monitor you during and after the procedure.
Pterygium surgery using the above technique takes between one to two hours to complete and usually comprises the following steps.
First, the pterygium will be surgically removed, including all the abnormal tissue that can grow back and cause recurrence. Then, a thin conjunctival graft is taken from the surface of your eye underneath your top eyelid. Finally, this graft tissue is used to reconstruct the defect created by the removal of the pterygium, using microscopic sutures to hold it in position and ensure good healing.
After the procedure, Dr Pappalardo will apply an eye pad over the operated eye to provide some comfort overnight, and to protect the eye from infection and trauma due to rubbing. You will be allowed to return home when you feel recovered from the procedure, however you must be accompanied by a family member, friend or carer as you will not be able to drive home. You will be given pain relieving medication to take as required overnight, once the anaesthetic wears off.
You will be seen by Dr Pappalardo the day after your surgery, at which time she will remove your eye pad, and check your eye to ensure the graft is in a satisfactory position to heal. She will then provide you with detailed information relating to care of your eye, use of eye drops, and what to expect in the coming days and months.
Pterygium surgery risks
As with any operation, pterygium removal does not come without risks. While complications are infrequent, these will be discussed with you prior to your surgery. You will have Dr Pappalardo’s contact details after surgery so that you are able to contact her at any time if concerns arise that require advice or further management.
Get in touch to see Dr Juanita Pappalardo
Dr Pappalardo has undertaken thorough training alongside Professor Lawrence Hirst, the pioneer of the P.E.R.F.E.C.T. for PTERYGIUM® procedure. If you suspect that you have a pterygium, get in touch to plan your visit with Dr Pappalardo.