You have a pterygium. Your ophthalmologist has suggested that you have an operation, as surgery is the only way to remove it.

This fact sheet contains information about the proposed operation, its results and its risks.

This is a benign lesion of the conjunctiva, the superficial membrane that lines the surface of the eye.

Why operate?
If left untreated, pterygium, initially limited to the conjunctiva, extends to the cornea. It becomes embarrassing because of its unsightly nature and the appearance of chronic irritation.
The extension to the cornea can lead, in the long run, to visual impairment.

The operation: It is performed on the patient, while he is on his back, in a sterile surgical environment and under a microscope.

Hospitalization: The mode of hospitalization, adapted to your case, will be proposed by your ophthalmologist, in agreement with the anesthesiologist.
The operation requires a minimum of several hours’ immobilisation.

Anaesthesia: It can be local, by injections of anaesthetic products in the vicinity of the eye, or only by instillation of drops. General anaesthesia is also possible. The choice of anaesthesia is based on the advice of your ophthalmologist and the anaesthetist and takes into account your wishes if possible.

Surgical technique: The operation consists of the total excision of the lesion. There is no opening of the eyeball.

Depending on the extent of the pterygium and the available tissue, the conjunctival plane can be reconstituted by rotating the neighbouring conjunctiva or by a conjunctival graft taken from the same eye or from the other eye. Tissue reapplication can be done by suture or with biological glue.

If the pterygium is extensive to the cornea resulting in irreducible loss of transparency and irregularity, a corneal graft may be necessary.

Usual postoperative course: In the vast majority of cases, the eye is not very painful, but it may show some redness and watering for a while.
Care is limited to the instillation of drops and the application of an ointment. Eye protection may be advised.
Anatomical pathological analysis of the lesion may be performed.
Healing may leave an opacity or deformation of the cornea (astigmatism), which may cause visual impairment.

Complications of the operation: Although it is perfectly standardised and has excellent results, the pterygium operation does not escape the general rule that there is no surgery without risk. It is therefore not possible for your ophthalmologist to formally guarantee the success of the operation.

Serious complications are exceptional: ocular perforation during the dissection of the pterygium, infection and necrosis of the grafted tissue.
Subconjunctival haemorrhages are benign and quickly regress.
Diplopia (double vision) may be observed.

The most frequent complication is recurrence of the pterygium. It makes any subsequent surgery more difficult.

Ophthalmologist in Brussels and Namur


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