Reducing the risk of repeat growths on the eye.

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Professor Harminder Dua
  • Institute: University of Nottingham
  • Region: East Midlands
  • Start date: March 2016
  • End Date: February 2018
  • Priority: Treatment
  • Eye Category: Corneal & external


Pterygium is a benign growth from the lining of the eyelid (the conjunctiva) onto the clear front surface of the eye (the cornea). It can distort or cover the cornea and significantly reduce sight. It’s a common cause of visual impairment in one or both eyes in many parts of the world.

At the moment the only treatment for pterygium is to surgically remove it, but the condition can come back, often with a vengeance. However, the team has successfully treated recurring pterygium by injection at an early stage with a drug called 5-Flurouracil (5FU).

Now the team is testing whether injecting the drug into the pterygium before surgery can stop it returning so often. They think that injections of 5FU before the operation can make the pterygium shrink and become inactive and so less likely to come back.

The injections are being done in the clinic, following local anaesthetic eye drops. The team is monitoring the effect of injections before surgery and how often the pterygiums return after surgery. They’re also taking samples during surgery to study in detail in the lab, to understand more about how the injections work.

Pterygium usually affects people of working age and so can have economic effects on the population. And although the condition has been known for centuries, the exact cause is still unknown. Results from this project should both help us understand the cause, and improve the outcome from treatment.