Pterygium occurs in 1.1% of Australians. However, it is more prevalent with higher exposure to ultraviolet radiation and in older men, occurring in 12% of men aged over 60 years. A recent narrative review estimated the direct treatment costs for pterygium in Australia as $8.3 million for one year, 1997-98. This included the cost of 8661 pterygium removals and 3292 conjunctival autografts. No data were available on the proportion of surgical interventions done because of visual impairment. Recurrence rates are believed to remain high (20%–40%) and recurrences may grow aggressively. Although mitomycin C (an antibiotic–antineoplastic agent) has been shown to reduce recurrence rates if used perioperatively, use remains limited because of potentially serious vision-threatening complications.
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