The white part of the eye surrounding the cornea and pupil can develop a yellow-orange elastic degradation resulting in patches of fat and protein on the eye. Depending on the location of these patches (if they are found on the white of the eye or if they extend to the clear center called the cornea) they are described as pinguecula or pterygia.
A pingueculum usually doesn’t spread to the cornea while a pterygium fans over the cornea in a winged shaped fashion. Both pinguecula and pterygia can be very irritating particularly when they become enlarged and calcified.
If symptoms cannot be improved by eyedrops, pinguecula and pterygia need to be excised and the area reconstructed. General anesthesia or overnight stays are generally not essential although a surgical microscope is ideally required.
Surgically Treating Pinguecula or Pterygia
After the pinguecula or pterygia are carefully peeled off replacement tissue has to be applied to the residual open area.
Replacement material could be a tissue graft from the patient’s healthy white of the eye area (autogtraft) or freeze-dried human amniotic membrane tissue (amniotic graft). Securing the tissue could be with dissolvable sutures or with tissue fibrin glue.
Surgery generally takes 20-30 minutes although it could take longer if the pterygia are large. Discomfort typically lasts no more than a few days. Contact your eye surgeon for more information or to schedule a treatment.