Objective: To describe the epidemiology of dry eye in the adult population of Melbourne, Australia. Design: A cross-sectional prevalence study. Participants: Participants were recruited by a household census from two of nine clusters of the Melbourne Visual Impairment Project, a population-based study of age-related eye disease in the 40 and older age group of Melbourne, Australia. Nine hundred and twenty-six (82.3% of eligible) people participated; 433 (46.8%) were male. They ranged in age from 40 to 97 years, with a mean of 59.2 years. Main Outcome Measures: Self- reported symptoms of dry eye were elicited by an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Four objective assessments of dry eye were made: Schirmer's test, tear film breakup time, rose bengal staining, and fluorescein corneal staining. A standardized clinical slit-lamp examination was performed on all participants. Dry eye for the individual signs or symptoms was defined as: rose bengal > 3, Schirmers < 8, tear film breakup time < 8, > 1/3 fluorescein staining, and severe symptoms (3 on a scale of 0 to 3). Results: Dry eye was diagnosed as follows: 10.8% by rose bengal, 16.3% by Schirmer's test, 8.6% by tear film breakup time, 1.5% by fluorescein staining, 7.4% with two or more signs, and 5.5% with any severe symptom not attributed to hay fever. Women were more likely to report severe symptoms of dry eye (odds ratio [OR] = 1.85; 95% confidence limits [CL] = 1.01, 3.41). Risk factors for two or more signs of dry eye include age (OR = 1.04; 95% CL = 1.01, 1.06), and self- report of arthritis (OR = 3.27; 95% CL = 1.74, 6.17). These results were not changed after excluding the 21 people (2.27%) who wore contact lenses. Conclusions: These are the first reported population-based data of dry eye in Australia. The prevalence of dry eye varies by sign and symptom.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported in part by The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne, the Ansell Ophthalmology Foundation, Melbourne, the Dorothy Edols Estate, Melbourne, and the National Health and Medical Research Council, including the Sir John Eccles Award to Professor Hugh Taylor, Canberra, Australia.
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