I recently had a large pterygium removed from my right eye. It was starting to affect my vision, and I didn't like how red and unsightly my eyes looked. I was so embarrassed to make eye contact with people, and I grew tired of answering questions about why my eyes were so red.
I had been researching pterygium on the internet for several years hoping to find new surgical techniques that prevented it from recurring and minimized trauma and healing time. The doctors I had seen in the past told me they either would not remove the pterygium, because it will come back more aggressively, or they would use a technique, such as taking tissue from the eye and using it to graft the area after the pterygium was removed. The graft would cover the scarring and help prevent the pterygium from returning. I was not comfortable with the idea of taking tissue from an already troubled eye, since in my opinion, this seemed like damaging a good area of the eye just to protect another part of the eye and could create more trauma and longer healing time. Also, my pterygium was so large and covered most of the eye, plus I had another smaller pterygium in the same eye, so there wasn't much good tissue left to use as graft.
My opthalmologist, who is a corneal specialist, wanted to remove the pterygium, but I got the sense that he was not too confident in his abilities and would tell me after each annual exam, "let's wait another year and see if it gets any bigger." Bigger! I don't want it to get bigger!! Wouldn't that make it more difficult to remove and cause more scarring, not to mention deteriorate my vision even further???
I continued my internet research hoping to find out more information about pterygium, and hopefully, locate a doctor who would give me the confidence I was looking for and who offered a better surgically option. My persistence paid off. The day I found Gulani Vision Institute and read all the information that was provided, I knew I wanted to make the trip to Jacksonville, FL to consult with Dr. Arun Gulani. Judging from what I read on his website, here was a surgeon who takes time to educate his patients about various eye disorders and surgical techniques he uses. (He also teaches other eye surgeons his techniques). In my opinion, Dr. Gulani stood out from among the rest. He described what he calls "the iceberg concept," in attacking pterygium. Basically, the iceberg concept is that the growth one sees on the surface of the cornea is only the tip of the iceberg. To greatly reduce the recurrence rate of pterygium, one must remove not only the surface tissue, but also its roots below the surface. Dr. Gulani has had much success with this surgical technique, with less than 1 percent recurrence rate when compared to about 39 percent recurrence rate with other surgical techniques. (He even designed his own surgical instrument for removing pterygium.)
Dr. Gulani uses amniotic membrane to graft the scarred area, which further minimizes recurrence and leaves a smooth white surface. (My eye doctor told me my eyes would be redder after the surgery and may take several weeks or months to clear up).
I made the trip to Jacksonville for an initial consultation with Dr. Gulani. He and his staff were very friendly and helpful. They make patients feel very welcome and at ease. I took my cousin along with me for moral support, and she was quite impressed with Dr. Gulani and staff as she has had over 18 years experience taking care of her husband who was sick with cancer, and had her share of dealing with medical professionals at all levels. My impression was that Dr. Gulani has great passion for helping patients improve their vision. He takes great pride in his work, and stops at nothing short of excellence to achieve patient outcomes.
Dr. Gulani diagnosed that I had very dry eyes, something I always suspected I had, but my eye doctor told me I didn't. Dr. Gulani said pterygium causes dry eyes and dry eyes in turn makes pterygium more irritating. So it was a vicious circle and could make surgery harder on the eyes, so he inserted tear duct plugs into both eyes to prevent loss of tears. Dr. Gulani told me he could remove my pterygium and explained the procedure and risks and benefits. His confidence and personality made me trust him totally. He did not pressure me to have the surgery but said I can take as long as I wanted to make a decision.
I contacted Dr. Gulani's office soon after, and my surgery was scheduled one month after my initial consultation. I again travelled to Jacksonville along with my cousin. (It is very important to have someone drive you back and forth after surgery to your appointments). The surgery was a success. I had extensive scarring, but Dr. Gulani did such skilled work that no one would know I had eye surgery if I didn't tell them. There was minimal redness, which cleared up after a few days. I could not believe my eyes when I looked in the mirror and saw how smooth my eyes looked where the pterygium had been. I was like, “Wow, this is amazing.” I am waiting for my eyes to heal completely before I return to Jacksonville to have my other pterygium removed.
This whole experience was great, and I am glad I had the patience to wait for the right doctor to come along. Dr. Gulani not only met my expectations but exceeded them. He and his staff are to be commended. I would highly recommend him to other people.