sunshine coast eye doctor services
sunshine coast eye doctor services

What is Pterygium?
(surfer’s eye)

A pterygium (pronounced “ter-idge-ee-um”) is a wing-like growth over the surface of the clear front window of the eye (cornea) caused by the accumulated effects of sunlight burning the surface of the eye. Most begin as a small sunspot on the “white of the eye” in areas exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light (UV).

With prolonged exposure, slow growth occurs over the eye (figure 1) often with increasing redness, irritation, corneal scarring, reduced vision, watering, and an unsightly appearance.

Click to Enlarge Pterygium Diagram

eye specialist diagram pterygium

Pterygium Surgery

Pterygium removal is usually carried out as a day procedure under local anaesthetic with sedation. It usually takes about 45 minutes. The entire area of heaped up scar tissue needs to be removed, not just the tip on the cornea but all the way to the base which usually extends towards the inner angle of the eye.

The resultant raw area on the white part of the eye is covered by a graft, usually taken from the healthy layer (never exposed to the sun) that lies under the upper eyelid. This conjunctival autograft importantly helps reduce recurrence and improves post-operative comfort.


SURGERY TIME: usually 45 mins

HOSPITAL STAY: Day Hospital Procedure

NO DRIVING: 1 week (Driver Required Day Of)

FULL RECOVERY: 6 -12 weeks


WORK: 1-2 weeks

EXERCISE: No Vigorous exercise eg. gym for 2 weeks

SWIM: No Swimming/Surfing for 1 month

WASHING: as usual, with extra care (avoid soap in eyes)