A pterygium is a growth of fibrous tissue on the conjunctiva of the eye that extends
onto the cornea.
Most patients that present for a pterygium evaluation have a red, itchy, irritated
eye. Blurred or changing vision can also be seen. However some are asymptomatic.
In the US: Occurrence within the United States varies with geographical location.
Within the continental United States, prevalence rates vary from less than 2% above
the 40th parallel to 5-15% in latitudes between 28-36°. A relationship is thought
to exist between increased prevalence and elevated levels of ultraviolet light exposure
in the lower latitudes.
Pterygia are reported to occur in males twice as frequently as in females (this
finding may represent an increased exposure to ultraviolet light).
Increased exposure to ultraviolet light, including living in subtropical and tropical
Engaging in occupations that require outdoor activities, for example, fisherman/waterman,
A genetic predisposition to the development of pterygia appears to exist in certain
The treatment for pterygia is first topical lubricants. Sometimes topical anti-inflammatories
are used for short term therapy. However, if the pterygia is large or approaching
the visual axis, the treatment is surgical removal and placement of a conjunctival
autograft or an amniotic membrane graft. Tisseal , a biological tissue adhesive
is used instead of sutures, allowing for a more comfortable and faster postoperative
healing. An antimetabolite is also administered during the surgery to help reduce
Dr. Baldinger was the first eye surgeon in the Northern Virginia area to perform
pterygium surgery using Tisseal (biological tissue adhesive) instead of sutures
to anchor the graft into place, shorterning the duration of the surgical procedure
and expediting the healing of the eye postoperatively. Tisseal is used routinely
in all of his pterygium surgeries.