LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - From fishing to golfing in Southwest Louisiana and year-round opportunities to soak in the sun, our eyes are subject to potentially permanent vision loss because of UV damage. In this Healthcast, we explain how one treatment option for a painful eye condition is changing the way people see.
Like many sun-loving teens, Renee Daigle was not thinking about potentially damaging UV rays when she soaked them in - but as she got older, she began noticing something out of the ordinary. "I had first noticed it when I was a teenager," says Renee, "I noticed something in the corners of my eye. It looked like mucus, I would try to remove it and it would not come off."
For years, Renee ignored this eye condition. It wasn't until her late 30's that a visit to the optometrist shed some light on this unusual growth. "During my exam he says, 'you have pterygiums on both eyes,'" says Renee.
Renee had never heard of a "pterygium," but it's something that Dr. A.J. O'Byrne with The Eye Clinic sees frequently in Southwest Louisiana. "A pterygium is a growth of conjunctival tissue," says Dr. O'Byrne, "this is from chronic irritation, usually from ultraviolet ray exposure, say from the sun."
This condition can be painful and lead to permanent vision loss if the growth moves closer to the cornea and pupil. "It can burn, feel like you have sand in your eyes and sometimes when you blink, you can actually feel the little bump because it can get quite thick in some people," says Dr. O'Byrne.
Previous treatment for pterygium relied solely on surgical removal of the growth, but there is now a new treatment option in town that is fast, painless and extremely effective. "We remove the pterygium and then we take the amniotic membrane graft to place it on the bare sclera to help keep the pterygium from growing back and also for comfort," says Dr. O'Byrne.
The removal is then followed by low-dose radiation treatments. Dr. O'Byrne says he has had a zero percent recurrence for patients undergoing the procedure.
Once Renee had her operations, she began seeing clearly and was back to work after a couple of recovery days. 'I did it on a Friday," says Renee, "went back to work on a Monday...no problem."