Dry eye has been linked to other ocular diseases and conditions, but a new study presented at the recent ARVO virtual meeting suggests DED may also play a role in the recurrence of pterygium. The investigative team from Canada and Saudi Arabia found more than one-third of recurrences developed after the first year, which they said heightens the importance of long-term follow-up in these patients.

The study was conducted from 2017 to 2020 and analyzed the recurrence rate of conjunctival autografting with and without mitomycin C, as well as amniotic membrane grafting. Roughly 290 patients had pterygium, with 94 operated cases (32%). The investigation’s main outcome was pterygium recurrence over an average follow-up period of about 29 months.

Pterygium involving the cornea was found in 55% of cases. Gender also seemed to play a role, as females appeared to be more likely to have pterygium encroaching on the cornea.

The overall recurrence rate was 17% over a 14-month period, with pterygium returning 37% of the time after the first year. The only significant recurrence risk factor was DED.

Following conjunctival autografting with and without mitomycin C, patients had new pterygium flare ups about 16% of the time.

On the other hand, the recurrence rate following amniotic membrane grafting was almost double at 27% following conjunctival autograft, but the difference wasn’t statistically significant.

In participants who underwent conjunctival autografts, the addition of fibrin glue to their sutures didn’t lessen the chance that their pterygium would return.

Alsarhani W, Alshahrani S, Showail M, et al. Characteristics and recurrence of pterygium: a single center study with a long follow-up. ARVO 2021 annual conference.