Treatment of pinguecula or pterygium depends on their severity. It is not considered severe if the patient only has a small growth which doesn’t affect vision. Treatment for non-severe cases involves preventing further progression by protecting the eyes against harmful UV rays (e.g., wearing protective sunglasses). For the more severe cases, in which prolonged and severe inflammation occurs, the doctor may prescribe medicated eye drops.
If the growth expands to where it reaches the cornea and affects vision, either by the mass obscuring the pupil area or by astigmatism developing as a result, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove the growth. Surgery takes roughly 30 minutes to complete. After the surgery, patients should rest for 3-6 hours and can return home the same day.
Unfortunately, the chance of recurrence is high for pinguecula or pterygium, especially in younger patients or patients who overexpose themselves to UV light.
However, if surgery is involved, to lower the chances of recurrence post-surgery, doctors are able to utilize new transplantation methods. The methods involved include removing the growth and covering the bare scleral area, using the patient’s own conjunctiva or using amniotic membranes (available from the Thai Red Cross). In severe, multiple recurrent pinguecula or pterygium, mitomycin C eye drops have been reported to prevent recurrence, but it is not part of the standard protocol.