Sunday, January 15, 2006


A pterygium is a fibrovascular wing-shaped connective tissue growth encroaching on the cornea from the nasal conjunctiva in the interpalpebral fissure (opening between eyelids). There is no evidence to pinpoint a specific cause of a pterygium but people who seem to be the most susceptible are those who spend most of their lives outdoors in sunny, dusty, sandy, and windy areas. Pterygium is probably an irritative phenomenon due to ultraviolet light. A pterygium progresses as a person ages, developing slowly through years of exposure to sunlight, wind, and dust. Initially there may be signs of chronic conjunctivitis, thickening of the conjunctiva, and symptoms of a mild conjunctivitis. The cosmetic appearance is usually the only complaint.
In the temperate zone of the United States pterygia seldom progress rapidly and usually require no treatment. If surgery is needed, it responds well to any surgical procedure. In tropical areas pterygia progress rapidly, are commonly thick and vascular, and have a tendency to recur irrespective of the type of surgery.
Treatment consists of surgical excision of the pterygium if it encroaches on the cornea. After surgical intervention, antibiotic ointment is instilled, and a firm patch is applied to eliminate any bleeding. A Beta radiation application can be given if it appears that it will regrow.
Boyd-Monk, H., and Steinmetz, C. G. Nursing Care of the Eye. Los Altos, CA: Appleton & Lange, 1987.
Newell, F. W. Ophthalmology Principles and Concepts, 6th ed. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Co., 1986.


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