Quick Fix for Sun-Damaged Eyes

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. Not much tears Mickey Munoz away from the beach. But after 60 years surfing, a growth on his eye forced him out of the water.

"I just kept holding off until finally it got to the point it where it started growing into the colored part of my eye," Munoz told Ivanhoe.

Pterygiums are the result of too much sun. A yellow or pink growth -- similar to a callous -- forms on the white of the eye. Left untreated, it can spread to the cornea, blocking vision.

That fear brought Laree Soto to John A. Hovanesian, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Harvard Eye Associates in San Clemente, Calif.

"It'll continue to grow and then it'll affect your vision. And it has. It hasn't affected my vision but it has grown," Soto told Ivanhoe.

Removing them has never been easier. In a 10 minute surgery, Dr. Hovanesian scrapes off Soto's pterygium. To prevent re-growth, he covers the area with graft tissue from human placenta. Protein glue instead of stitches holds the graft in place.

"It looks better because the eye is less red and inflamed," Dr. Hovanesian told Ivanhoe. "It is much more comfortable for patients because they don't feel stitches on the eye and it makes surgery much more quick. It cuts the time of surgery almost in half."

The re-growth rate drops from 50 percent to less than one percent and it's much less painful.

"It was no different than spending a day in the sun and being a little irritated. It wasn't any worse than that," Munoz said.

At 70, Munoz still has the moves. But his best move yet may be the hat he now wears to protect his eyes.

Redness and irritation in the eye are the first signs of a pterygium. Most are caused by exposure to UV rays and dry, dusty conditions. Sunglasses and a hat can lower your risk.


Harvard Eye Associates
(949) 493-5411

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