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A pterygium is a thickened tissue that grows over the thin, clear membrane on the surface of the eye (known as the conjunctiva). It will generally grow towards the centre of the eye from the inner corner of the eye (although it can sometimes grow in from the outer edge or, very occasionally, from both sides at once), and can affect one or both eyes at the same time. Pterygia will often be the result of exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation, or to dusty, windy environments.
Signs that you have a pterygium may include fine blood vessels becoming visible in the eye, or the presence of a pink, triangular tissue. Although a pterygium will generally be painless, it can cause mild irritation or an itching sensation on the surface of the eye. In some cases, a pterygium can look quite unsightly. It may be that pterygia can be simply observed and left untreated for a considerable period of time; however, a pterygium can grow across the cornea to such an extent that it impacts on your vision, It is important to consult an ophthalmologist before the pterygium grows over the centre of your cornea to prevent permanent impact on your vision. You should consult an Ophthalmologist if you notice any growth in the pterygium over a period of time, especially if its growing over the cornea.
If you are referred to an eye surgeon in Adelaide to have a pterygium removed, the procedure will usually be performed under local anaesthetic. In some cases, a small portion of the conjunctiva will be moved to in order fill in the space from which the pterygium was taken, which will reduce the risk of it growing back. Your ophthalmologist will likely recommend that the eye surgery be undertaken before a pterygium grows across the cornea, in order to prevent it causing a scar.