Pterygium before and after


Table of Contents

What is pterygium?

Pterygium, also known as surfer’s eye, is a non-cancerous growth that forms on the conjunctiva (the clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye) and can extend onto the cornea (the clear, central part of the eye) and can cover the pupil.

It grows from either corner of your eye, but usually more often from the corner closest to your nose. It spreads outward, sometimes onto the cornea of your eye.

Pterygium can happen to anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors in the sun without eye protection. It’s more commonly seen in adults over 40 years old who live in warm or tropical climates. Children rarely get pterygium.

About 12% of people in the world develop pterygium.

Pterygium surgery before and after
Pterygium before and after surgery Copyright Dr. Aureliano Moreno

What is the difference between pterygium and pinguecula?

Pingueculum is a raised yellowish or white growth on the white of your eye. It stays on the conjunctiva and doesn’t overlap onto your cornea. It usually doesn’t cause symptoms or needs to be removed.

Pterygium is a fleshy growth that has many blood vessels in it. It may remain small or can grow and extends over the cornea and can cover the pupil. It may start as a pingueculum.

Pingueculum before and after surgery Copyright Dr. Aureliano Moreno
Pterygium recovery
Pterygium before and after surgery Copyright Dr. Aureliano Moreno

What are the symptoms of pterygium?

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Feeling that there is something in the eye
  • Blurry vision
  • Teary eyes
  • An unpleasant appearance of your eye due to the size of the lesion
surfer's eye
Severe cases of pterygium can significantly compromise vision


Diagnosis of pterygium is usually made through a comprehensive eye exam, including a visual acuity exam and a slit-lamp exam. A slit-lamp is a type of microscope that focuses a narrow (a “slit”) line of bright light on your eye. It helps your provider look at the front and inside of your eye. A slit lamp exam is a normal part of an eye exam, not need any special study.

Slit lamp exam
Slit lamp examination

What is the treatment?

Treatment options for pterygium include the use of artificial tears to alleviate symptoms, eye drops to reduce inflammation, and surgery to remove the growth if it is causing significant discomfort or interfering with vision.

Prevention measures include wearing protective eyewear, such as sunglasses, when outdoors and avoiding prolonged exposure to UV radiation.


The surgery that we perform and recommend is removing the pterygium and covering the affected area with a healthy piece of conjunctiva (autograft surgery). The healthy conjunctiva is usually taken from behind the upper eyelid. This procedure is best for preventing the return of pterygium, but it’s a longer and more technical surgery.

This surgery is done with local anesthesia and light sedation for the patient’s comfort and lasts between 30 minutes and an hour.

Here we share more examples before and after surgery:

4 weeks after surgery
First week after surgery. The first weeks redness is normal this means that the graft had good adhesion

Recovery after surgery

You’ll likely wear an eye patch over your eye for a day. You’ll apply antibiotic and steroid eye drops to the affected eye for a few weeks or months. These eye drops help reduce inflammation and the chance of the growth returning. You can return to your normal daily activities in a few days.

The chance of pterygium returning depends on the type of surgery you had and the amount of sun exposure after surgery.

Pterygium return rates are:

-Up to about 80% if your surgery was only a simple removal technique.

-About 20% if amniotic membrane is used to cover the pterygium site

-Between 5% and 10% if your surgery was pterygium removal followed by tissue replacement with a conjunctival flap or autograft. This is the technique that our specialists perform.

Entrevista Televisa hablando acerca de Carnosidad o Pterigión

Additional information: Cleveland Clinic

We use our own and third-party cookies to optimize our website and our services. Review our Privacy Policy for more information.