Whats that red thing on your eye?

Sunset Surfing. Red Bluff, Western Australia. Canon 5D MK II, 24-105mm @105mm, 1/1000 @ F 11, ISO 800, Dr Smith.

How many times have you heard that question? That red thing might well be a Pterygium. This is a growth, usually on the inner corner of the eye. A pterygium occurs more commonly in people who live in hot or dusty climates or in those with high ultraviolet (UV) exposure, such as surfers or those who work outdoors. Sometimes it is referred to as “surfers eye”.

“Pterygium” comes from the Greek word Pterygos, meaning little wing. It is a wedge shaped or insect wing shaped, vascular, fleshy growth that originates in the conjunctiva, with growth over the surface of the cornea.

Red Percher Dragonfly, Kimberley, Western Australia. Canon 5D MK II, 24-105mm @ 70mm, 1/2000 @ f 5.6, ISO 800, Dr Smith.

Fortunately there is a very successful surgical option to treat a pterygium. This is usually indicated when there is documented growth, the vision is affected with increasing astigmatism, the pterygium is becoming a cosmetic concern or it is affecting your lifestyle.

The surgery I perform involves wide excision of the pterygium, isolating and protecting the underlying muscle of the eye. This is then followed by repair of the surface of the eye by suturing in a large conjunctival graft, which is harvested from the same eye. Surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic, the most comfortable way for patients to undergo this type of surgery.

I recently performed an audit of my surgical results from the last 250 cases. There were no episodes of recurrence, double vision, loss of the graft, infection or serious bleeding. There were no cases where there was a loss of vision. Pre and post operative surgical images are shown below.




You no longer have to put up with an irritated, blurred eye with people asking you, “What’s that red thing on your eye”? At Northpoint Eye Care we realise though that surgery can be a daunting process and we will take the time to talk to you and assess when surgery is required. We’ve created an e-book to guide you through the surgical process.

If you would like more information and access to our e-book please email us or follow one of the links on our website. You can also call us 07 3385 0900 or email us reception@northpointeyecare.com.au to arrange an appointment.


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