(English) Pterygium FAQs
At Linda Vision, we believe in educating our patients to ensure comfort and confidence in the procedure they will be undergoing. Below are common questions asked by our patients, and we feel it is important for you to know the answers. If you have a question that is not answered here, schedule your free Pterygium consultation with Dr. Linda Vu today!
Q: What is a pterygium?
A pterygium (TER-i-gee-um), also known as Carnosidad or Pterigión in Spanish, is a fleshy pink scar tissue that crosses the cornea. Symptoms include a foreign body sensation in the eye, irritation, itchiness, or a burning sensation. Large pterygiums can also distort the cornea, causing astigmatism.
Q: How much does it cost to remove my pterygium?
The cost to remove your pterygium depends on many factors including:
- The size and thickness of the pterygium
- The location of the pterygium
- The number of pterygiums you have in each eye
- Whether you have enough natural tissue to perform a graft or whether an amniotic membrane graft needs to be used
- Whether you had previous surgery to remove your pterygium
Linda Vision also offers interest free financing through Care Credit. We recommend you come in for a free pterygium consultation at our state of the art eye surgery center in Los Angeles so that Dr. Vu can look at your eye(s) and determine the best treatment plan for your specific case.
Q: What causes pterygiums?
The exact cause is unknown but it is associated with excessive exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. Chronic irritants like dust and wind may also promote pterygium growth.
Q: Why do people need pterygium surgery?
Although most pterygiums are harmless, they are surgically removed if they cause excessive discomfort, redness or visual problems. Surgery is also performed if a pterygium is unsightly or cosmetically unappealing.
Q: How is pterygium surgery performed?
The surgery is performed in the office, under local anesthesia. The entire lesion is removed, but there is more than a 50% risk of recurrence unless special care is taken to prevent regrowth. A small area of white, unaffected tissue is grafted to the area where the pterygium is removed, reducing the risk of recurrence to less than 5%. Sometimes, special medications or amniotic membrane grafts are also needed.
Q: Is pterygium surgery painful?
During surgery, your eyes will be completely numb and you will not be able to feel anything. After surgery, when the anesthesia begins to wear off, you will experience some discomfort. Generally, over the counter Tylenol along with lubricating eye drops are sufficient to alleviate symptoms.
Q: How will I feel after pterygium surgery?
Immediately after surgery you may experience a foreign body sensation and watering in the eyes. Patients usually spend at least 24 hours after surgery resting. Healing after this type of surgery may take a few weeks, during which you will use prescription eye drops. The eye may be slightly swollen and bloodshot for about 3-4 weeks, but improves in comfort and appearance over time.
Q: How long does pterygium surgery take?
The length of surgery depends on several factors, including the complexity of each patient’s pterygium. Generally, surgery takes about a half hour per pterygium.
Q: Can I drive right after pterygium surgery?
No. You should arrange transportation from our office to your home after surgery. You will be given Valium prior to your surgery which can cause drowsiness and affect your ability to drive. We also recommend that you have someone drive you to your first post-operative appointment the following day.
Q: How long will it take before my eye is white?
Your eye will look very red for 1-2 weeks after surgery. Usually, patients start to notice less redness 2-3 weeks after surgery. Some patients heal faster, while others take longer. However, at 3-6 weeks you will see that you are well on your way to recovery.
Q: How safe is pterygium surgery? Are there any complications or side effects?
All surgeries have risks, but the vast majority of pterygium surgeries go perfectly well with excellent results and satisfied patients. Dr. Linda Vu will answer all your questions and discuss any possible risks, including bleeding and infection, with you before surgery. Most patients experience some discomfort for a few days to a week after the surgery. There may be some temporary sensitivity to bright light or wind and we recommend wearing dark glasses when outdoors.
Q: How soon can I return to work after pterygium surgery?
New techniques have significantly reduced healing times. However, each patient’s healing time varies with the type of procedure performed, medical history, and physical health. You can expect to go back to work within 1 week of surgery. Your eyes will continue to heal over the next 2-4 months. You will be using prescribed eye drops to help in your recovery and to reduce the chances of your pterygium recurring.
Q: Is there financing available?
A: Yes, we offer monthly payment plans with 0% interest through Care Credit that make pterygium surgery easily affordable.