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The association between pterygium and conjunctival ultraviolet autofluorescence: The Norfolk Island Eye Study


Sherwin, JC and Hewitt, AW and Kearns, LS and Griffiths, LR and Mackey, DA and Coroneo, MT, The association between pterygium and conjunctival ultraviolet autofluorescence: The Norfolk Island Eye Study, Acta Ophthalmologica, 91, (4) pp. 363-370. ISSN 1755-3768 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1755-3768.2011.02314.x


Purpose: To investigate the association between conjunctival ultraviolet autofluorescence (UVAF), a biomarker of ocular ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure, and prevalent pterygium.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study on Norfolk Island, South Pacific. All permanent residents aged ≥15 were invited to participate. Participants completed a sun exposure questionnaire and underwent autorefraction and slit lamp biomicroscope examination. Area of conjunctival UVAF (sum of temporal/nasal area in right and left eyes) was determined using computerized methods. Multivariate logistic and linear regression models were used to estimate the associations with pterygia and UVAF, respectively.

Results: Of 641 participants, 70 people (10.9%) had pterygium in one or both eyes, and prevalence was higher in males (15.0% versus 7.7%, p = 0.003). Significant independent associations with pterygium in any eye were UVAF (per 10 mm2) [odds ratio (OR) 1.16, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.161.28, p = 0.002], tanning skin phenotype (OR 2.17, 1.203.92, p = 0.010) and spending more than three-quarters of the day outside (OR 2.22, 1.204.09, p = 0.011). Increasing quartile of UVAF was associated with increased risk of pterygium following adjustment of age, sex and time outdoors (pTrend = 0.002). Independent associations with increasing UVAF (per 10 mm2) were decreasing age, time outdoors, skin type and male gender (all p < 0.001). UVAF area correlated well with the duration of outdoor activity (pTrend < 0.001).

Conclusion: Pterygium occurs in approximately one-tenth of Norfolk Islanders. Increasing conjunctival UVAF is associated with prevalent pterygia, confirming earlier epidemiological, laboratory and ray-tracing studies that pterygia are associated with UVR. Protection from the sun should be encouraged to reduce the prevalence of pterygium in the community.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:conjunctiva, epidemiology, pterygium, sunlight, ultraviolet radiation
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Ophthalmology and optometry
Research Field:Ophthalmology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Hewitt, AW (Professor Alex Hewitt)
UTAS Author:Mackey, DA (Professor David Mackey)
ID Code:75755
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:48
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2012-02-15
Last Modified:2017-11-06

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