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A pterygium is a growth of the conjunctiva that invades the cornea. It is an abnormal process. It may stay small or become large enough to interfere with vision. These are usually seen on the nasal aspect of the eye. They are probably the result of outdoor exposure to dry, dusty conditions and UV light. They are more common in people who spend a lot of time outdoors.


Medical treatment involves limiting UV light exposure and lubricating drops. Sometimes steroid drops are necessary short term to quiet down a pterygium that is particularly inflamed. If the pterygium continues to grow despite conscientiously applied medical therapy, it can be surgically removed. Often a tissue graft is applied to the excised area. Unfortunately, after removal the recurrence rate for pterygia is significant. When they recur they tend to be more aggressive and difficult to deal with than they were originally.

Dr. Stephen H. Johnson performs pterygium surgery with grafting at one of two locations:

  • Newport Bay Surgery Center, which is dedicated exclusively to eye surgery
  • Hoag Hospital Outpatient Facility, Surgicare

With the patient awake and responsive, topical anesthesia is applied and the pteryguim is resected. An autograft of conjunctiva from another area of the eye surface can be harvested, or a piece of amniotic membrane can be used to cover the area of resection. The graft may be glued or sutured into place. If sutures are used these may be removed between 4 – 6 weeks after the procedure.

Swimming is restricted until the eye is fully healed.

If you are experiencing a pterygium, please call 949-760-9007 or contact us to schedule an eye exam with us in Newport Beach so we can discuss your treatment options. Diligent application of medical therapy can often avoid the need for surgery in the future.

Our Location

Newport Beach

1441 Avocado Ave. Suite 206
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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